Nearly 75% of all Americans advocate the legalization of cannabis, at least for medical use. With all the debate and drama behind marijuana, the true benefits behind the plant are often overlooked. One little known fact about cannabis is that when consumed raw, it provides a host of nutritional benefits.
Like other green leafy plants we eat, raw cannabis is filled with vital nutrients like fiber, iron, and calcium. It also contains essential fatty acids, is loaded with antioxidants, and contains every essential amino acid. And, like other green, leafy plants, raw cannabis is not psychoactive, meaning it does not inhibit the mind or body. However, when heated, the nutritional value is lost, as is similar with other plants and vegetables. As long as cannabis remains in its raw form, the plant offers incredible health benefits that cannot be found if heated.
One unique nutritional benefit of raw cannabis of interest to vegetarians is there are many fatty acids present that are typically found in meats only, and not in plants. Dr. J.C. Callaway, of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Kupio in Finland, notes in Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An Overview that hempseed contains about 25% of protein. Uncommon for a plant, the protein content in cannabis is unique. Low in carbohydrates, many would consider this low-carb, high-protein source of nutritional value a benefit to the food industry.
In fact, hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, are sold in many supermarkets and health food stores. Consumers can eat them as is, like sunflower seeds, blended into smoothies and shakes, or added to salads and pasta. They can also be made into a paste, similar to peanut butter, known as “canna-butter”, and is considered quite flavorful.
Raw, fresh cannabis leaves can be used in salads, juiced, or used as a dried seasoning, like oregano. Cannabis oil is also very popular, and can be found as cannabis coconut oil and cannabis olive oil. In addition to being used as a food source, cannabis oils can be found in salves, balms, and medicated skin creams.
Consuming raw cannabis is considered a very efficient way to gain nutritional value by many people. Packed with vitamins, minerals, essential and fatty acids, and protein, raw cannabis provides a healthy dose of nutrition without any psychoactive effects.