Hemp Seeds and Health
Hemp seeds are a very healthy, nutritious and versatile food. They are rich in protein and contain beneficial fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. I like to sprinkle them over fruit and cereal, and they work well in yogurt and on salads, too. Hemp seeds are a great food for vegans because in addition to being eaten as whole seeds they can be ground to make hemp seed butter, blended with water to make hemp seed milk or pressed to make an oil, a protein powder and a flour.
Hemp seed butter and milk can be made at home or bought in a store. Hemp seed butter can replace peanut butter in sandwiches and on crackers. The milk comes in plain or flavored versions, just like dairy milk. Unlike dairy milk, though, hemp seed milk is a good source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp protein powder is sold in health food and specialty stores and can be added to foods and to drinks such as smoothies to increase their protein content. Hemp flour is also available and can provide a protein boost to baked goods. Hemp seed oil can be used in smoothies and in cold foods like salads.
Healthy Fatty Acids in Hemp Seeds
When referring to the diet the word “fat” conjures up a bad image in some people’s minds, but it’s actually an essential nutrient. It’s important that we choose healthy fat, however, and that we eat it in moderation. Hemp seeds are a great source of healthy fat.
A two tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains about 9 grams of fat. This fat consists mainly of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, with a small amount of monounsaturated (very healthy) and saturated (less healthy) fatty acids as well. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (both polyunsaturated) are present in a little over a 3:1 ratio. Some nutritionists say that many of us are eating far too many omega-6 fatty acids in proportion to the omega-3 ones. Hemp seeds contain a good omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) needed by humans. These are ones that scientists say we need but that we cannot make in our bodies. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 substance, is one EFA, and the other one is alpha-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 substance. Both EFAs are present in hemp seeds. They are sometimes known as “parent” fatty acids, since the body can make other fatty acids from them.
Researchers are discovering that omega-3 fatty acids have many very important health benefits. They are necessary for proper brain function and also reduce inflammation, decrease the risk of heart disease and improve the blood triglyceride and cholesterol profile. These benefits have been discovered for the animal forms of omega-3 fatty acid – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – which are found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and halibut. Plants contain a different omega-3 fatty acid – ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Our bodies convert ALA into EPA and DHA, although in limited amounts.
Two Additional Fatty Acids in Hemp Oil
Hemp seed oil also contains small quantities of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA). Gamma-linolenic acid is an omega-6 substance made from linoleic acid and may be anti-inflammatory. Stearidonic acid is an omega-3 substance made from alpha-linolenic acid and increases the amount of eicosapentaenoic acid – one of the fish oil omega-3 fatty acids – in the body. Since GLA and SDA are both made in our bodies, people might wonder why their presence in hemp seeds is significant. The reason is that the reactions that make them are sometimes hindered by other substances in the body. It’s beneficial to eat preformed GLA and SDA instead of relying entirely on our body’s production of these chemicals.
The benefits of hemp seed oil can be obtained by eating hemp seeds or isolated hemp oil. Unrefined, cold pressed hemp oil is green in color due its chlorophyll content and has a pleasant, slightly nutty taste. It’s best not to heat the oil in order to prevent damage to its fatty acids, and it should also be refrigerated and stored in a dark bottle to prevent damage from heat, light or oxygen. Hemp oil is added to skin creams, and some people report that it’s a very effective moisturizer.
Read the rest of the article here: Waking Times