As a runner, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my nutrition and my training. Training aside (because I’m here to talk food with you), I refuse to believe that I’ve ever reached the point of perfection. There is always room for improvement. That’s why I’m using hemp more, especially as my protein source in my recovery shakes this training cycle.
Today I’d like to share with you why I believe hemp hearts can benefit your running, whether you’re training for a Boston qualifying marathon time or in a learn to run clinic.
(On a side note, speaking of learn to run, Canadian Olympic Marathoner Dylan Wykes – a 2:10:47 marathoner – led the walk/run group at Forerunners clinic last night. Ha, coolest thing ever – I almost joined the walk/run group instead of my own pace group. Okay, that was way off topic – I don’t even know if Dylan eats hemp hearts – but he probably does because he’s a vegetarian athlete…)
Now back to hemp… And three reasons why we, as runners, can love hemp hearts:
1. Hemp hearts are a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids.
While chia seeds still top my list as plant sources (as opposed to fish sources) of omega-3 fatty acids, hemp comes in a close second. Runners need omega-3 fatty acids not only because they are required for many of our normal body functions (such as building cell membranes in our brains), but also because they are highly anti-inflammatory. This anti-inflammatory function will help us to recover from our workouts better and faster. And we must find omega-3’s in food sources because our bodies cannot make it!
Hemp hearts contain approximately 3,000mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving (which is 30g or about 3 Tbsp). How many omega-3’s do you need to be getting each day? There are no official daily recommendations, however Harvard School of Public Health recommends getting at least one rich source of omega-3 fatty acids into your daily diet. Choose from salmon, trout, halibut, mackerel and sardines or chia seeds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and flax seeds..
2. Hemp hearts are an excellent source of complete protein.
Hemp hearts actually contain all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein – something that is rare to find coming from a plant source. Not only is it a complete protein, it is also easily digested – right up there with eggs and other animal sources.
3. Hemp hearts are a great source of magnesium, zinc, iron and vitamin E.
We know magnesium is an electrolyte that helps our muscles to stay relaxed (not cramp), zinc and vitamin E are potent antioxidants that help us recovery quickly, and iron is of course required to keep energy levels high. All are required for other reasons of basic health. One serving of hemp hearts (3 Tbsp) provides approximately 50% the recommended daily value (DV) for magnesium, 25% DV for zinc, 20% DV for iron, and 6% for vitamin E. Not too shabby.
Throw them in your shakes! Or, for a 14g protein hit, blend up this strawberry hemp shake (click here for the recipe).
You could also put them in cereal, add them to granola and granola bars, sprinkle them over toast, or top salads with them.
By the way, in case you were wondering, hemp is indeed a variety of the Cannabis plant – but it’s the other variants that have a higher content of THC and are thus used as the drug commonly known as marijuana. Hemp hearts have zero THC content – so you won’t be getting high off them, just nourished 😉
Sarah J Cuff, RHN