Hemp seed is the richest source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) in the plant kingdom and contains a relatively low percentage saturated fats. EFAs promote cellular growth, healthy skin, hair and eyes, aid in immune response, disease prevention, weight control and even in cognitive functions. The human brain is 60% fat – therefore EFAs are critically important to its proper function and good health. EFAs are also the raw material the body needs to produce hormones, the body’s communication network for cellular activity.
EFA’s supports the body’s detoxification process due to the fact that the LA (Linoleic Acid) and ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) have the ability to carry toxic substances to the surface of the skin, intestinal tract, kidneys and lungs where they can be eliminated from the body.
EFA deficiencies can lead to a myriad of health problems including impaired vision and neurological function, growth retardation, motor in-coordination, tingling sensations in arms and legs, behavioural changes, high triglycerides, hypertension, sticky blood platelets, tissue inflammation, oedema, dry skin, loss of hair, skin eruptions, liver and/or kidney degeneration, drying of glands, susceptibility to infections, sterility in males, miscarriage in females, hormonal imbalance and impaired wound healing and cell growth. It is important to maintain an appropriate balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the diet as these two substances work together to promote health.
There are various studies that indicate many common conditions and illnesses are related to fatty acid deficiencies and that dietary supplementation of EFAs, particularly if included with a healthful, whole foods diet, will often prevent, improve, or cure these illnesses. These include atopic eczema and psoriasis, acne, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases such as chronic bladder infection, ulcerative colitis and Chrohn’s disease, osteoporosis, PMS and menopause.
Dysfunctional fatty acid metabolism is implicated in multiple sclerosis and some studies indicate that supplementation with EFAs or GLA will improve the condition. EFA supplementation would also be a beneficial adjunct for those suffering with cancer, diabetes, chronic depression, postpartum depression, attention deficit disorder and schizophrenic psychosis. Because Hemp oil contains both EFAs in balance and also provides two of the EFA metabolites, it may be more beneficial than other oils for those with these conditions or those who have problems assimilating EFAs.
Hemp Seed Oil can be integrated into the diet in many ways:- use in the preparation of salad dressings, marinades, dips, spreads, add to smoothies, drizzle on any food such as potatoes and cooked grains, or simply take by the spoonful as an adjunct to a healthy diet. Hemp seed oil has a nutty taste similar to sunflower oil.
It is important to purchase Hemp Seed Oil that is organically grown, made from non-sterilized seeds and cold-pressed instead of chemically extracted (via hexane) so the vital and delicate nutrients are intact. The oil should be bottled in opaque (preferably HDPE) containers in a refrigerated section of the store.
After the removal of the oil from the Hemp seed another useful raw material called the meal or seed cake is left behind. This meal is high in protein, about 30% if Hulled/Shelled Hemp Seeds are used and 50% if un-hulled seeds are used. The meal can be ground into flour and used to replace up to 20% of other flours in baked goods. Hemp meal is also used by micro-breweries as an ingredient in the mash and adds flavour and body to beer.
Good results have been realized with the use of Hemp meal in animal feed for horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, catfish and chickens. The mash still contains nutrients such as the amino acids, which are present in the whole seeds. Hemp seeds have long been used as bird feed.
Botanically, Hemp seeds are tiny nuts (technically not a nut, but an achene) that develop on the female flowers of the Hemp plants. As they mature in late summer, they develop a thin, crunchy hull, grey or brownish in colour with a fine, whitish, marbled pattern and a smooth shiny surface. These nut-like fruits are nearly egg-shaped in outline and flattened at the margins. The fibrous husk protects the nutrient dense whitish embryo inside. When hulled, the Hemp seeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds. The hull of the seed consists mainly of dietary fibre, which is indigestible and also contains small amount of chlorophyll. It is the meat or embryo that contains the powerful nutrients that are so beneficial.
The nutritional content of the Hemp seed is impressive, offering 30% complete and highly digestible protein and containing over 36% essential fatty acids, which is 16% more than flaxseed. It is the best source of Omega 3, Linolenic acid and Omega 6, Linoleic acid, as well as GLA, Gamma Linoleic acid (approximately 3%). Hemp seed contains protein, lipids, choline, inositol, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phospholipids, phytosterols and all eight essential amino acids. The amino acid profile is superior to soybean and cow’s milk.
The complete protein in the Hemp seed not only provides all the essential amino acids required to maintain health, it is 65% globulin edestin and contains albumin.
Nutritional Analysis of Hemp Seed / 100g
Nutritional Analysis of Hemp Seed / 100g
Total Dietary Fibre
Vitamin A (B-Carotene)
Thiamine (Vit. B1)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)
Vitamin E (d-A-tocopherol)
Fatty Acid Analysis
Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Gamma Linoleic acid
Total unsaturated fatty acids
|18:1 8.5-16% |
18:3 1-4 %
Saturated Fatty Acids
|Palmitic acid |
Total saturated fatty acids
|16:1 6-9% |
Amino Acid Content / per gm
|Glutamic Acid + |
Glutamine Aspartic Acid +
|47.95 mg |
* Essential Amino Acid
Hemp seeds have many delightful applications in the culinary field. They can be substituted for dairy, soy or rice protein in the production of non-dairy beverages, frozen desserts, tofu and cheeses.
The seeds have a delicious nutty flavour and may be eaten whole and raw as a snack with or without added seasonings. Toasting lightly enhances the delicious nutty flavour of the seeds, but eating them raw will preserve all the nutrients. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled on salads, vegetables, pasta, or added to smoothies, granola, baked goods, soups, sauces, dips, seed cheeses, nut milks and nut balls.
Another interesting use for the seeds is to make them into nut butter in a Champion or Green Power Juicer. Nut butter may also be made in a blender or Vita Mix, but this method will require that extra oil be added to make the nut butter spreadable. Nut butters can be made with or without added seasonings.
As we have seen, Hemp seeds and/or oil contain important nutrients that are vital to human health and well being and the plant provides many materials for clothing, shelter and fuels. Consequently, it is important to support the use of Hemp products; it is highly beneficial for health, the environment and the economy. Hemp is truly an amazing plant!