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Hemp : Nature's Ancient Superfood!

  Hemp Seed (Cannabis Sativa)  has been an important source of nutrition for thousands of years in Old World cultures.

Technically a achene, (that is, a small, indehiscent fruit that is dry and usually containing an oily germ. (Sunflower seeds are another example of an achene)), Hemp Seed typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Hemp Seed Oil is over 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and is an exceptionally rich source of the two Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) Linoleic Acid (18:2 Omega-6) and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (18:3 Omega-3).

Due to metabolic competition between the two EFAs for access to the enzyme delta-6 desaturase , the significance of a dietary ratio for the intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids is important to consider for optimal health.  The Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in Hemp Seed Oil is normally between 3:1 and 4:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health. In addition, the biological metabolites of the two EFAs, Gamma-Linolenic Acid (18:3 Omega-6;‘GLA’) and Stearidonic Acid (18:4 Omega-3; ‘SDA’), are also present in Hemp Seed Oil.

The natural dark colour of Hemp Seed Oil is from chlorophyll within the mature seed, which can hasten auto-oxidation of oil that is exposed to light.

The two main Proteins in Hemp Seed are Edestin and Albumin. Both of these high-quality storage proteins are easily digested and contain nutritionally significant amounts of all Essential Amino Acids. In addition, Hemp Seed has exceptionally high level of the Amino Acid Arginine. Hemp Seed has been used to treat various disorders for thousands of years in traditional oriental medicine. Recent clinical trials have also identified Hemp Seed Oil as a functional food.

Hemp seeds have an established place in history as a nourishing and delicious food. Cultures from around the world have their local recipes. Russians make porridge, sweets and a delicious butter said to be superior to peanut butter. In fact, the medicinal properties of hemp seeds in ancient Chinese pharmacopoeia are substantial. No other single plant source can compare with the nutritional value. Both the complete protein and the essential oils contained in hemp seed are in ideal ratios for human nutrition.

Ideal Vegetable Protein!

A pound of hemp seed is said to provide all the protein, essential fatty acids and dietary fibre necessary for a human to survive on for two weeks. The protein in hemp contains all 20 amino acids, including the eight amino acids essential to life and is easily digested. For this reason it is used in many parts of the world for treating malnourishment.

Dangers of "low fat" and "no fat" diets

Recent trends to produce "low fat" and "no fat" foods present untimely dangers to human biology. In an effort to reduce the intake of saturated fats which typically provide little nutritional benefit and are attributed to excess weight gain, food manufacturers are producing products that contain no source of essential fatty acids. An ideal fat source needs to contain a balance of essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are known as Omega-3 or Alpha Linoleic Acid and Omega-6 or Linoleic Acid. Hemp foods and Hemp Seed Oil will be at the head of the "good fat" line, since they contain 80% EFAs. Fats and oils provide a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, B and K. They also produce energy. As the trend towards "nutraceuticals" (nutritional foods or substances which prevent disease) continues, the increasingly sophisticated consumer will turn to hemp seed products.

High Fibre - little "colon cleansers"

Although little has been written about the fibre content of hemp seeds, due to the fibrous outer husk, they are an excellent source of natural fibre so essential for gut health.

Nutritional Analysis of Hemp Seeds - Approximated

Protein 22.5%
Carbohydrates 35.8%
Moisture 5.7%
Ash 5.9%
Calories 503 per 100g
Dietary fibre 35.1% (3.0% soluble)
Fat 30%
 

Essential Fatty Acid Profile - Approximated

Omega-3 (Alpha Linolenic) 20%
Omega-6 (Linoleic) 57%
Omega-9 (Oleic) 12%
Stearic 2%
Palmitic 6%
Carotene (Vit A) 16,800 IU per pound
Thiamine (B1) .9mg/100g
Riboflavin (B2) 1.1mg/100g
Pyridoxine (B6) .3mg/100g
Niacin (B3) 2.5mg/100g
Vitamin C 1.4mg/100g
Vitamin D 100 IU/100g
Vitamin E 3 mg/100g

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

EFAs absorb sunlight and keep membranes fluid. Their tendency to disperse gives biological systems the power to carry substances such as toxins to the surface of the skin, intestinal tract, kidneys, or lungs, where these substances can be discarded.

EFAs are involved in producing life energy in our body from food substances and moving that energy throughout our systems. They govern growth, vitality and mental state. They hook up oxygen, electron transport and energy in the process of oxidation. Oxidation, the central and most important moment-to-moment living process in our body, is the 'burning' of food to produce the energy required for life processes. EFAs are involved in the transporting of oxygen to all our cells. EFAs can be likened to oxygen 'magnets' that pull oxygen into our body. Linoleic Acid and Linolenic Acid appear to hold oxygen in our cell membranes, where it acts as a barrier to viruses, fungi and bacteria.

EFAs substantially shorten the time required for fatigued muscles to recover after exercise. They facilitate the conversion of lactic acid to water and carbon dioxide. This is especially important to athletes.

EFAs increase metabolic rates. They increase the metabolic rate and burn more fat into carbon dioxide, water and energy sometimes resulting in weight loss (dependant on overall diet).

Linolenic Acid and its derivatives can lower cholesterol by up to 65%. It also produces smooth, velvety skin, increases stamina, speeds healing, increases vitality and brings a feeling of calmness. It reduces inflammation, water retention, platelet stickiness and blood pressure. It also inhibits the growth of tumours and enhances some immune functions, reduces the pain and swelling of arthritis and completely reverses premenstrual syndrome in some cases.

Conclusion

Hempseed is an excellent source of nutrition. Indications from traditional Chinese medicine, recent scientific reports and modern human clinical trials agree that hemp seed has health promoting properties - that are supported by results from nutritional analyses of the seed, oil and seed meal. In particular, the healing  properties of hemp seed can be attributed to high levels of EFAs and other PUFAs in the oil, in addition to a rich source of important amino acids in an easily digested protein.

 
 

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This Page was last updated on : 2014-03-08