Hemp is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. It originated in central Asia, with use in China dating back to 2800BCE. Hemp cultivation spread west through the Mediterranean region and then into Europe during the Middle Ages. It was planted in Chile during the 1500’s and eventually made its way to North America a century later.[*] By the mid-1600’s hemp had become an important economic crop for colonial America. The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were actually written on hemp paper!
For a brief, fascinating history of hemp’s role in America’s history take a look at this article.
Hemp is a truly amazing plant with a great number of contributions. Hemp fiber has been used in bedding, clothing, canvas, cordage, paper, plastics, and even construction materials. Hemp oil has been used to make oil-based paint as well as body lotions and essential oils.[*] Most importantly for us, hemp seeds are also a superfood.
Hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, making it a hearty plant-based protein source comparable to that of meats and dairy. Just three tablespoons of hemp seeds provide around 10 grams of complete protein![*] They are also rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are linked to a variety of health benefits, and are a great source of fiber.[*]
To learn more about where we source our hemp seed from please visit our supplier blog.
Used as a food source around the world since 5000-8000 BCE, flaxseed has an incredible history as one of the world’s first cultivated superfoods. It is thought that these nutritious seeds were cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BCE, and King Charlemagne passed laws requiring his subjects to consume them because he believed so strongly in their health benefits.[*]
In addition to being a food source, flax fiber has been used since ancient times to produce linen cloth and paper. It was brought to North America during the colonial period for these purposes and has since been cultivated in the Great Plains of the United States for commercial oilseed for over 100 years. Linseed, another word for the oil derived from the flax plant, is still used to produce high quality industrial paints and coatings.[*]
Three essential ingredients found in food-grade flaxseed help contribute to their powerhouse health benefits: Omega 3s, lignans, and fiber.
- Omega 3s (specifically alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA): Omega 3 fatty acids like ALA provide the essential fatty acids our bodies need to function and deliver numerous health benefits.[*]
- Lignans: Lignans function as powerful antioxidants and provide a variety of potential health benefits.[*]
- Fiber: Flaxseed is most well-known for its high fiber content. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which support a healthy digestive system.[*]
In recent years, health food producers have been using flax seeds as a replacement for gluten-containing grains. With its impressive nutritional and allergen-free attributes, it’s no surprise that flaxseed has braved the ages and become a mainstay in our real food bars!
One important point to note about flaxseed is that the outer shell is difficult to digest. Unless the shells have been cracked open the seeds will pass straight through the digestive system, yielding little of their nutritional value to the body. Grinding the seeds into flax meal is the best way to maximize the nutritional yield the seeds can offer.
To learn more about where we source our flaxseed from please visit our supplier blog.
The date is a fruit that grows on a flowering species in the palm family. Date palms have been cultivated for so long that their exact origin is unknown! It is believed that they originated in the Fertile Crescent of northern Africa and date fruits have served as a staple food for the Middle East and Indus Valley for thousands of years.[*] In recent years they have become a nutritious addition to a variety of manufactured foods.
Dates are one of the sweetest fruits with up to 70 percent of their weight coming from sugar. However, the Deglet Noor variety that we use contains about one third the calories of the Medjool variety that is most common in stores.[*] They are the perfect alternative to processed sugars and we have taken advantage of their tasty, mineral rich flavors in our bars.
Though most of the calories in dates come from carbs, they also offer a variety of vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. They are high in fiber and a good source of antioxidants.[*]
To learn more about where we source our dates from please visit our supplier blog.
For an interesting in-depth comparison of dates and figs and the health benefits they offer please take a look at Happy Happy Vegan’s blog post Dates Vs Figs: All You Need To Know And More.
Chocolate lovers around the world have embraced this “food of the gods” for centuries, primarily for its full-bodied, delicious taste, but also for a number of health benefits. Thanks to high levels of antioxidants and flavanols, dark chocolate has been linked to decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.[*]
A 2010 study from the European Heart Journal found that regular consumption of chocolate decreased the risk of heart disease, in part because it lowered blood pressure. Cocoa may also help heart health by boosting levels of HDL, or the “good” cholesterol. Similarly, a 2014 British study found that the rich flavones from chocolate decreased the risk of type-2 diabetes by lowering insulin resistance and improving blood glucose regulation. In a 2012 study, Swedish and Finnish researchers found that a moderate, yet regular, consumption of chocolate each week lowered the risk of stroke in men.
Each of these proven health benefits contribute to one of chocolate’s most appealing properties: stress relief! While you may think of the indulgent chocolate bar as simply a treat, it actually has chemical properties that lower stress hormones. In a 2009 study, researchers found that a chocolate bar a day each day for two weeks reduced levels of catecholamines, or the “fight-or-flight” hormones in our bodies.
We chose to use 70% chocolate in our bars because the rich and deep flavor compliments our natural recipe. But like all of our ingredients, we also chose chocolate because it has a healthy side to it as well. All of the chocolate we use has a 70 percent cocoa content, providing all the health benefits without the extra sugar of milk chocolate. The proven long-term health benefits and stress relief properties explain why the popularity of chocolate has persisted around the world for centuries.
To learn more about where we source our chocolate from please visit our supplier blog.