Hempseed oil is a huge health trend worldwide. It’s rich green colour and nutty taste has people adding it to their smoothies, salad dressing, cereal and even their bodies. So while it’s hip… is it healthy?
Extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant (cannabis sativa), hemp oil is composed of protein, carbohydrates and fibre. In fact 25% of its total calories come from protein, in comparison to chia and flaxseeds which provide only 16% – 18%. Our bodies use consumed proteins and amino acids as building blocks for repair and regeneration across the body. Hemp seeds are a complete protein source because they provide all the essential amino acids, a rarity in the plant kingdom. Quinoa and amaranth are other examples of plant based complete proteins.
While coming from the same plant species as marijuana, hemp is cultivated purely for its fibre and edible seeds. It has minimal traces (0.3%) of the compound THC (the psychoactive component), so no, it won’t get you high!
So What are the benefits of hemp oil?
The oil, which makes up half the weight of the seeds, contains 75% essential fatty acids, and is naturally high in omega-3 and omega-6. The human body is capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs except for two, omega-3 and 6, that’s why they’re called essential and therefore must be obtained from your diet.
GLA (gamma linolenic acid) is a plant derived omega-6, well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and yep you guessed it, hemp has it. Omega-3 is no slacker either, contributing 20% alpha linoleic acid (ALA) to the hemp oil fatty acid break down. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is at an optimum 3:1 in hemp oil, meaning you can consume hemp without needing to balance your diet with any other foods rich in fat. Unfortunately modern diets are tipping the scales toward omega 6 with a ratio of 16:1! This imbalance can potentially lead to health problems including cardiovascular, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The fatty acid profile of hemp oil is superior to that of flaxseed and fish oils.
In terms of nutritional value, a two tablespoon serving of hemp seeds (20g) packs a serious nutritional punch, including valuable amounts of minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and phosphorous.
Most chronic diseases in modern society including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s Disease have the common link of inflammation.
Let’s look at a few of these more closely.
Healthy fats are required for the brain to operate properly, and while hempseed oil contains 3% GLA, the level of linoleic acid (LA) is at 54%. The latter playing a critical role in brain health, particularly its function in repairing damaged brain cells. Protecting the brain against inflammation can potentially lower a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and even Multiple Sclerosis.
Arthritis is a condition that affects 15% of the population in India. It is more common in women than men and is expecting to rise dramatically by 2025 according to Avinash Phadke of SRL Diagnostics. While there is no cure, the pain can be managed. The anti-inflammatory properties of hempseed oil can reduce the joint pain and swelling caused by rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, offering a more natural solution to over-the-counter or prescription medicine.
Further research has shown that using hempseed oil to treat arthritic patients, lowered the survival rate of the cells that promote rheumatoid arthritis and at certain levels can even cause the death of these problematic cells.
Another serious health issue we face in our super busy, high stress lives is heart disease, one of the biggest killers in society today. A quick science lesson….the amino acid Arginine, produces nitric oxide in your body. This gas molecule makes your blood vessels relax lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The good news? Hemp seeds contain loads of arginine! So grab a handful, whether they be raw or roasted, and read on to find out how these protein powerhouses can also nourish your skin from the inside… and out.
The use of hemp oil in skin care products and cosmeceuticals has crossed the line to becoming more than just a trend. It’s often included in body oils and lipid-enriched creams designed to penetrate the skin. The increased levels of essential fatty acids LA, ALA and GLA will help the skin fight against dryness, improve elasticity and increase moisture.
A healthy immune system depends on the the balance of omega-3 and 6. The anti-inflammatory properties of GLA regulate the immune system which have been shown to reduce irritation and itching in conditions like eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, reducing the need for medication.
Hempseed oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. In fact, according to dermatologist Dr Joshua Zeichner, it may “modulate skin oil production”, making it perfect for acne sufferers. Other oils such as coconut or flaxseed have high comedogenic ratings meaning those with sensitive skin are likely to suffer a breakout.
So whether you’re looking for a 100% natural solution to a persistent problem or you simply want to keep your skin soft and supple, give the cannabis kiss a try!