It is their content of essential fatty acids that make hemp seeds particularly interesting. Indeed, the vast majority of oils and foods consumed in Western countries provide too much omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) and too little omega-3 fatty acids (ALA alpha-linolenic acid). This imbalance – about 10 to 30 omega-6 to 1 omega-3 – causes conditions conducive to cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders. However, in hemp seeds, the omega-6 / omega-3 ratio is 2/1 to 3/1 and corresponds to the ideal proportions for human health established at 1/1 to 4/1 (see our Omega- 3 and omega-6).

* Hemp seed oil is made with whole seeds.

The fact that this oil also contains up to 4% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) adds to its interest, as some people are not able to synthesize this substance from omega-6 fats and therefore need ‘a direct source. Borage oil (20% GLA) and evening primrose oil (10% GLA) are the best known sources of GLA, but they are only available as supplements.

Cannabis, cannabis seeds, cannabis oil placed on a wooden floor with a green tree  in the background.

The protein in hemp seeds is of good quality compared to that of other seeds 10 . They contain significant amounts of sulfur amino acids (methionine and cystine) and arginine, an amino acid that appears to play an important role in cardiovascular health. On the other hand, the proteins in the hemp seed are digested better, because they do not contain a trypsin inhibitor (trypsin is an enzyme that digests proteins).

Nutritional composition of shelled hemp seeds (25 g)

Unshelled hemp seeds are edible, but they are very crunchy. Manufacturers add them, after grilling them, to products in which this texture is desired. The seeds can be incorporated into all kinds of recipes (dressings, dips, sauces, muffins, etc.).

Research on hemp oil and seeds

Very little human research has been published on edible hemp , as is often the case with food.

Heart health . Because of the interesting omega-3 content of hemp seeds and oil , there is interest in their potential preventive effect on cardiovascular disease 11 . So far, a few animal trials have shown mixed or modest results 3-5 , 12 . In humans, the effects on cardiovascular risk markers have been minor 6 or absent 7 .

Eczema. The particular lipid profile of hemp oil has raised the interest of researchers in the field of eczema treatment. A preliminary study (20 subjects) has given promising results 8 , but these have not yet been confirmed by another trial on more subjects.

Precautions

Warning

Like all products rich in omega-3 fatty acids, hulled seeds and hemp oil oxidize easily when exposed to air or heat. The oxidized fat are harmful to health. It is therefore recommended to buy small amounts of oil at a time. As long as the container is closed, the oil will keep for 10 months in the fridge. Once opened, the oil will keep for about 2 months in the refrigerator.

The whole seeds of hemp can be kept longer than those shelled, as the bark protects the fatty acids from oxidation. Shelled seeds, once opened, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

The oil from hemp seed is ideal for salad dressings or to flavor a dish after cooking. Due to its content of fragile omega-3 fatty acids, it is not suitable for cooking .

Only one case of allergic reaction to the consumption of hemp seeds has been reported 9 .

Side effects

The nutritional benefits of hemp seeds lie in their high omega-3 content (ALA alpha-linolenic acid) and their good protein content. They are also a very good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine). Whole seeds contain some iron (1.8 mg / 25 g). However, despite the high alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content of hemp seeds, flax seeds remain the best source of this fat, which is most absent from our diet. In addition, they are less expensive than hemp seeds.

 Also, since the arrival of chia seeds, which are an excellent source of ALA and a source of iron and protein, hemp has stood out less. However, good nutrition and good health still come with variety.

Consuming hemp seeds in addition to flax or chia seeds will therefore provide additional nutrients (protein, vitamin B1 and iron), in addition to the discovery of a new flavor. Note also that hemp and chia seeds are much gentler on the intestines than flax seeds.

On the shelves

The hemp oil has great nutritional benefits, but it is very expensive. It is mostly found in health food stores. It costs about 30% more than the already expensive flax seed oil.

Give preference to cold-pressed oils , the manufacturing process of which preserves the fragile omega-3 fatty acids. There are also hemp seed oil capsules on the market.

The natural products market also offers several ready-to-eat products containing hemp. The list grows every year: dressings, bars, muesli, butter, cheese substitutes, chips, ice cream, salsa, herbal teas, coffee, “burgers”, etc. In the factory, the production of the oil produces a residue which is transformed into flour; it can be used to make chips or meal for animal feed.

If you consume hemp for its health aspect, it should be borne in mind that some of the ready-to-eat foods available on the market contain only small amounts or contain other products (salt, sugar and others). ) not very healthy. Read the list of ingredients carefully.

By Hussain

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