We live in an age where many people are trying to eat better, exercise more, and generally adopt healthier lifestyles. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the term ‘superfood’ has become a common one. It describes foods that are especially rich in nutrients and good for our wellbeing.
More and more people are also becoming aware of the benefits of cannabis, hemp, and CBD. Like superfoods, they are full of nutritional compounds and have a variety of positive effects on the human body.
But is cannabis a superfood, and how can you use it to complement a healthy diet? Here’s all you need to know.
What Is a Superfood?
The precise definition of a superfood is up for debate. Most people consider them foods that have a higher-than-average nutritional value. They might be rich in essential vitamins and minerals or packed with protein, fiber, or antioxidants.
By eating more superfoods, many believe that they can live a longer life and keep chronic diseases at bay.
However, some dieticians and nutritionists argue that superfoods do not exist. They claim that they are simply a marketing ploy that companies have created to sell more goods. They also point out that, to be truly healthy, it is necessary to eat a wide variety of different foods.
That said, there are certainly some foods that are better for us than others. Most of them come from plant-based sources, although there are some exceptions to the rule.
Some examples of what people commonly consider superfoods include:
- Berries: A good source of fiber and antioxidants.
- Leafy greens: Contain vitamins A and C, calcium, and beneficial phytochemicals.
- Cruciferous vegetables: e.g., broccoli, kale. High in fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals.
- Tomatoes: Rich in vitamin C and a beneficial phytochemical called lycopene.
- Beans and pulses: A good source of plant-based protein, fiber, and folate.
- Nuts and seeds: High protein and rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats.
- Wholegrains: High fiber, B vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content.
- Olive Oil: Packed with vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and plant polyphenols.
- Fish: Source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (especially oily fish, e.g., salmon, sardines).
- Natural Yogurt: Rich in protein, calcium, and probiotics.
So, where does cannabis fit into the picture? Let’s look at its nutritional value and decide whether it is worth considering it as a superfood.
Cannabis Nutritional Value: Is It a Superfood?
When people think about cannabis, they might immediately picture the dried buds that are available in dispensaries. However, the plant is much more than that, and all of its parts could have value as a superfood.
The flowers, or buds, are the most quintessential part of the cannabis plant. They are also incredibly versatile, with consumers using them in many different ways.
As people have become more aware of the health risks of smoking, cannabis edibles have risen in popularity. They provide a tasty and convenient way to use cannabis, either recreationally or medicinally. But are they worthy of superfood classification?
The primary active compounds in cannabis flowers are:
The exact chemical makeup of cannabis will depend upon the strain. Some are high in THC, while others contain more CBD. Other cannabinoids also feature, including CBG, CBC, THCV, and more.
Terpene profiles can also vary significantly between strains and are what determines their unique flavors and effects. Some common examples include myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, and pinene.
All of these substances have potential benefits for human health. Many have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties, and some may also relieve issues like anxiety and pain.
Are Cannabis Flowers a Superfood?
While they have some nutritional value, people tend to use cannabis flower for medicinal or recreational purposes. Therefore, most would classify them as an herb rather than a superfood.
Furthermore, most edibles are sweet treats, and their high sugar content could negate some of the benefits of cannabis.
However, it is possible to incorporate cannabis flower into healthier options too. One of the easiest ways to do this is by infusing it into a healthy oil, such as olive or hempseed. You can then use it for cooking nutritious meals or as a simple salad dressing.
Whether cannabis flowers could accurately be called a superfood is debatable. That said, it is certainly possible to use them to enhance the benefits of some more classic examples.
The most common type of cannabis seeds that are available for consumption is hemp seeds. Hemp is a type of cannabis with a low THC content and is often used to extract CBD.
Hemp seeds do not contain much in the way of cannabinoids as most of them are concentrated in the flowers. However, they do have many of their own benefits.
For example, hemp seeds are a fantastic source of essential fatty acids. They contain a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 that many experts consider ideal. They are also one of the only plant-based sources of all nine essential amino acids.
Hemp seeds also contain the following nutrients:
- Vitamins C, E, B1, B3, and B6
Are Hemp Seeds a Superfood?
This long list of beneficial compounds leads us to believe that hemp seeds are deserving of superfood status. Try lightly toasting the seeds and sprinkling them over oatmeal. Or use hemp seed oil as a substitute for olive oil when cooking.
Cannabis leaves are something you won’t come across that often unless you grow your own. In the past, most growers would discard these leaves as they contain little THC or CBD.
However, people are starting to change their views on cannabis leaves and eat them rather than throwing them away. This is great news as, although they won’t get you high, they still have a lot to offer.
Some of the most important nutrients in cannabis leaves are:
- Vitamins C and K
Are Cannabis Leaves a Superfood?
People often overlook cannabis leaves due to their low cannabinoid content. However, it is possible to use them as a leafy green, as they have a high nutritional value. Therefore, we think they should rank on any list of superfoods.
Some common ways to use cannabis leaves include adding them to a green smoothie or chopping into a salad. They have a strong flavor that can take some getting used to, but their many benefits make it worthwhile.
Is Cannabis a Superfood? Final Thoughts
Many proponents of cannabis would say that the plant is definitely a superfood. Its seeds and leaves are brimming with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Meanwhile, its flowers are rich in cannabinoids and terpenes, which have a vast range of health benefits.
On the other hand, some would say that the entire concept of superfoods is nothing more than a fad or a clever marketing scheme. However, it is a fact that some foods are extremely healthy, and cannabis is one of them.
So, if you are trying to improve your diet, why not give cannabis a try? It is adaptable, tasty, and doesn’t need to get you high. Unless you want it to, of course, in which case, cannabis is one of the finest superfoods around!