The hemp seed (or hemp heart) has been an important source of nutrition for many cultures for thousands of years. In its natural state hemp seed is considered by many to be the safest, most balanced, natural and complete source of protein, amino acids, and essential fats found in nature. Technically a nut, hemp seed contains on average 30% oil, and 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Hemp seeds have been ignored for their nutritional benefits because of hemp's relationship to cannabis; however hemp seeds don’t cause any psychotropic (high) reactions, and are extremely nutritious. Let’s take a look at its key features and how you can benefit from it.
The oil in hemp seeds is typically over 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and is an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in hemp seed oil is generally 2:1-3:1, this is considered to be optimal for human health. No other single plant source contains the oils essential to life in this perfect ratio as well as hemp.
Western diets are commonly very unbalanced, displaying a ratio of around 10:1. This high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our modern diet likely plays a role in the occurrence of various skin problems, and inflammatory diseases.
The EFAs are fatty acids that cannot be made by humans, and thus must be obtained through diet. Diets that contain sufficient EFAs and PUFAs have shown to lower both arterial levels of LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure in humans. PUFA's also increase bleeding times which results in decreased peripheral blood pressure and clot formation.
The two main proteins found in hempseed are Edestin and albumin. These high-quality storage proteins are easily digested and contain significant amounts of all essential amino acids.
Edestin protein is found only in hemp seed. Edestin protein is similar to the human body’s own globular proteins found in blood plasma. Edestin protein produces antibodies which are vital to maintain a healthy immune system. Since Edestin protein closely resembles the globulin in blood plasma, it’s very compatible with the human digestive system. This could explain why there are very few reported food allergies to hemp foods. Edestin protein has also been shown to promote a healthy immune system as well as eliminate stress.
Albumin protein is another high quality globulin protein and is similar to that found in egg whites. Albumin is highly digestible and is a major source of free radical scavengers. In fact, Albumin is the current industry standard for protein evaluation. (Reference) Albumin protein also assists in maintaining the strength of tissues that hold the body together.
Digestion transforms hemp protein into amino acids which are the basic building blocks required for the growth and maintenance of body tissue. (Reference)
Hemp protein uniquely contains all of the 21 known amino acids — including 9 essential amino acids (EAAs). These amino acids are labelled “essential” because the human body can’t produce them on its own. Amino acids carry out many important bodily functions including giving cells their structure and are essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue.
Hemp seeds are rich in minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium sulfur, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. On top of this hemp seeds contain adequate amounts of Vitamin E, B vitamins including Folate, and Vitamin D3 (the only known plant food source of this incredibly important sunshine vitamin).
Hemp seeds are also high in insoluble and soluble fibre, providing more than enough to help keep your gastrointestinal system regular. A research study conducted in a Hong Kong university demonstrated hemp seed pills as an effective treatment for relieving functional constipation. The researchers found that a dose of 7.5 grams (Just under 1 tbsp) to be more effective and therapeutic than smaller doses of 2.5 or 5 grams.
In April this year, Australia and New Zealand food regulators finally decided to follow the rest of the world and allow hemp to be sold as a food source. Coming into effect in November 2017, sales of low-THC hemp products including proteins, milks, flours and oils will be available to the public to consume as they please.
Big ups to the regulators involved! We can’t wait to see what interesting ways people find to use hemp products in their foods.
Hemp seed is an excellent source of nutrition. The many benefits of hemp seeds can be attributed to high levels of essential fatty acids, being rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as a rich source of important amino acids in an easily digested protein.
P.S We will be following the post with some amazing hemp food recipes, keep your eyes peeled.
Healthy fats at the ideal 3:1 ratio.
High in protein (~25%), and contains the amazing proteins Edestin and Albumin
High in gut healthy fibre
High in fibre, minerals and vitamins
Is now a legal food source in Aus & NZ