High just in nutrients, hemp seeds

Just like chia seeds, hemp seeds are an incredibly rich, plant-based source of good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. But that's not all there is to these tiny—and sometimes misunderstood—superfood seeds.

Hemp seeds sometimes get a bad rap because they come from a type of cannabis. But the type of hemp seeds you buy to eat come from industrial hemp, a low-THC plant that's grown for its fiber and seeds—not its psychoactive properties. (THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana.)

Instead, hemp seeds make you feel good in a much different way. They're a stellar source of high-quality, plant-based protein that's very easy for your body to digest, thanks to its lack of oligosaccharides and trypsin inhibitors. (The protein in hemp seed meal is more than 90 percent digestible; the protein in whole and de-hulled hemp seeds is more than 80 percent digestible.)

Hemp also won't throw your hormones—and thus your metabolism—out of whack the way soy can, and it hasn't been subject to extensive genetic engineering.

Add in fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, potent antioxidants and the aforementioned omega-3 fatty acids, and you have a bonafide superfood on your hands. Some early research even suggests that components in hemp seeds may help ease symptoms of menopause.

Buying hemp seeds

For now, commercial hemp production in the United States only exists as a few pilot programs—thanks mainly to the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorized the growth and study of commercial hemp by state departments of agriculture and institutes of higher education. In the meantime, you can purchase imported hemp seeds in many health food stores.

Look for hemp seeds from Canada or the European Union, where proper cleaning practices help keep the THC concentrations down to trace levels. The "TestPledge" seal means the manufacturer has pledged to keep concentrations low, although it's just a pledge. (In other words, it's not enforced by any third party.)

Using hemp seeds

You can add hemp seeds to your baking, but they're most nutritious when eaten raw. Sprinkle them on your salad, or in granola and yogurt to impart a light, nutty flavor—or add them to your favorite sauces and dips for a boost of healthy fats and easily-digested protein.

Longing for a boost of healthy protein during Phase 3 of the Fast Metabolism Diet? Throw some hemp meal into your morning smoothie—or process hemp seeds into your own milk replacement: All you have to do is blend one part hemp seeds to four parts water until smooth and creamy, then strain the milk through a cheesecloth to remove any seed particles. The resulting milk has a strong, nutty flavor. When you're not on the Fast Metabolism Diet, you can add a dash of vanilla and a low-glycemic sweetener to soften the taste.

Heads up:

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for you—and because your body can't make them itself, you have to get them from your diet or supplements. But if you're on medication to thin your blood or lower your blood sugar, talk to your doctor before taking large amounts of omega-3; the two can interact. The good news is that omega-3 fats may actually reduce the complications from other medications. The University of Maryland Medical Center has a list of which medications omega-3s can interact with.

You might also want to avoid hemp seed if you have anemia or a weakened immune system. But for everyone else, hemp seeds remain an incredibly healthy—and perfectly legal—addition to Phase 3 of the Fast Metabolism Diet, or anytime as part of an ongoing Fast Metabolism lifestyle.