Hemp is simply second to none when talking about nutrition. Nothing else on the planet packs such a complete source of protein, fat (good fat – essential fatty acids) and carbohydrates in such a small package. If you are looking for Nature’s perfect wonder food, you’ve found it and it is hemp seed.
There are so many wonderful health benefits to hemp seed. First and foremost are the immune boosting qualities of the essential fatty acid content of the seed. Hemp is the only seed with a substantial level of Omega 3, Omega 6 and GLA, the elusive Omega 9. There is simply no better way to boost your immune system using food.
Hemp has been known to lower blood LDL cholesterol levels and aid in lowering blood pressure. It has also been known to improve cardiovascular circulation and function.
Hemp seed is an excellent vegan source of protein. It has all 20 known amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids, which make hemp seed a perfect vegan protein by providing all the amino acids that your body needs. Hemp protein is also made up of approximately 65% Edestin and 35% Albumin amino acids. Edestin is considered the most digestible protein because of its closeness to the structure of protein found in human blood. Edestin is also the backbone of cell DNA. Albumin is most commonly known as the protein found in egg whites. Hemp protein is also free of the sugars, like those found in soy, and oligosaccharides which cause flatulence and stomach discomfort. Because hemp is also a natural anti-inflammatory, taking hemp protein benefits athletes and body builders by helping fuel and recover muscles. More than 25% of the total whole hemp seed’s weight is protein, which makes it one of the greatest vegetarian protein sources out there.
EFAs – Essential Fatty Acids
With all the hype these days about polyunsaturated this and trans fat free that it is hard to understand the difference between what is considered good fat and bad fat. First thing, not all fat is bad. We actually need fat. We even need cholesterol, it is used by the brain, for instance, as an electrical insulator. We also need saturated fats as they too are part of our diet, however the most important fat, and also the best fat for you, is polyunsaturated fatty acids and hemp seed oil is made up of 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids. Only around 10% of the remaining fat is saturated, making it the most unsaturated oil in the plant kingdom.
Ok, so what are EFAs? As the name says, they are essential fatty acids. Essential because the body cannot produce them on its own, it must get them from your diet. Fatty acids because that is what they are, long chain unsaturated fatty acids, these are the building blocks of your immune system and regulate many other items in the body including hair growth, nail production and oral health.
So hemp is high in EFAs but that isn’t the whole story. What makes hemp so special is that these EFAs have to be ingested by us in a particular ratio for us to be able to digest them. Hemp oil has a perfectly balanced 3:1 ratio of Omega 6 (LA) to Omega 3 (LNA) essential fatty acids. This makes hemp oil the ideal source of EFAs because you do not need to worry about trying to balance your EFA intake, the seed has done it for you. Hemp also has Omega 9 (GLA) which is very hard to get from plant sources.
With our over packaged, over processed diets, we are severely lacking in EFAs and need to increase this essential nutrient in order to avoid many common illnesses that are related to EFA deficiencies or imbalances. By taking 1 to 2 tablespoons of hemp seed oil a day, this gives you between 8 and 16 grams of Omega 6 (LA) and between 3 and 6 grams of Omega 3 (LNA), enough as a daily intake of EFAs. Everyone should take hemp oil as an EFA source: it tastes great, it has a good supply of antioxidants in the form of Vitamin E and also contains other beneficial fatty acids besides Omega 3-6-9 as well. After all your body also needs good fats to burn off bad fats!
We all love fiber….not. But we all know that fiber is essential to health and well being. You should eat fiber every day, and lots of it, but most importantly, you should be getting insoluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber is material that can break down in the system. Insoluble fiber will not break down and will pass through you without incident, except to gently cleanse your inner digestive tract. This is what is so good about hemp fiber, the shells of hemp seeds are mostly made up of insoluble fiber, helping to gently cleanse your system of the long term build up of toxins in your intestines and digestive tract.
Can’t eat the whole seed because of sensitive dental work or the just don’t work in the recipe you want to use? Try the hemp protein powder or the hemp flour. The protein powder has a reduced fiber content but still contains an adequate amount and the hemp flour is full of fiber!