Hemp has just been legalised in Australia! Here’s what you need to know

Despite seeing hemp on the shelves in health food stores over the last few years, until November 12 this year it was illegal in Australia and New Zealand to sell hemp as a food product.

Now that manufacturers are removing their “not for consumption” labels, here’s what you should know about this pretty remarkable plant food.

Hemp is different from marijuana, and contains no psychoactives.

Hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant – cannabis. The difference is that hemp is grown to be low in (or have no) THC, the psychotropic chemical that gives people a high, while marijuana has been grown to be high in THC. Hemp products contain a minuscule 0-0.3% THC, and won’t show up on any drug tests.

It’s a complete protein.

Hemp contains all 21 amino acids, making it one of the only plant proteins with a complete protein profile. Until hemp protein came along, if you weren’t keen on whey protein, your best way to get a complete protein was to combine pea and rice protein.

Whole hemp seeds are 30% healthy fats.

Hemp seeds are high in omega 3, which are fantastic for brain and heart health and reducing inflammation and blood pressure. They also have the perfect 1:4 ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

They’re packed full of fibre.

Containing both soluble and insoluble fibre, hemp is amazing for your digestive health and gut bacteria.

It’s also bursting with vitamins and minerals.

More than just protein and healthy fats, hemp is also high in vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.

It’s fantastic for the planet.

If you’re concerned about your ecological footprint, hemp is an incredibly versatile and sustainable crop. “Hemp also removes more CO2 from the air than trees do and is highly pest, weed and drought resistant,” says Hemp Foods Australia CEO Paul Benhaim. “Unlike corn, cotton, soy, wheat and rice, Hemp uses a lot less water and doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides.”

Hemp is really easy to work into your diet.

Already available as seeds, oil, flour, milk and protein powder, hemp is really easy to work into your existing diet. Sprinkle the seeds in your bircher or porridge, use the oil and flour in your cooking and baking (hemp pancakes, anyone?), substitute hemp protein powder for your regular powders in smoothies and shakes and replace your nut and dairy milk with hemp seed milk. You can even make hemp ice cream and hummus!

It’s great for your skin, too.

Hemp contains Cannabidiol (CBD), a safe and natural compound known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which makes it fantastic for your outside as well as your inside. Using hemp seeds and oil, you can even make your own beauty products.

For more information on hemp products (and to get your own), including recipes and skincare ideas, check out Australian-owned and grown Hemp Foods Australia.