“Hemp – that’s like Cannabis, right?”
In today’s climate, you’re usually in one of two camps: an advocate for hemp or utterly confused by it. But one thing’s for sure, the health benefits of hemp are a little too good to ignore. Hemp is a rich source of protein, fibre, essential fatty acids and contains a whole range of important minerals.
But first, what is hemp? And why is it so gosh darn good?
What is Hemp?
Many people define hemp as “Cannabis that doesn’t make you high.” And quite frankly, they’re absolutely right (but it goes a little deeper than that). Hemp and marijuana are both children of the Cannabis Sativa family. The difference? Marijuana contains high doses of THC (the naughty compound that makes you all giggly), whereas hemp contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight – so it’s not enough to make you high.
So in 2017, hemp products were finally recognised as the innocent, high-achieving sibling of Marijuana and legalised for consumption (about bloody time, eh).
So is hemp as good as everyone says it is? Let’s dig deeper.
The Health Benefits of Hemp
If you’re new to hemp, this next statement might come as a shock: Hemp is one of the most nutrient-dense and useful plants in the whole world. And to realise the health benefits of hemp, you only have to take a good look at its nutrient profile.
And when we talk about consuming hemp, this could be in the form of hemp seeds, hemp seed oil (different to CBD oil), hemp protein, hemp milk and hemp flour. While each food varies slightly in its benefits, we’re going to take a look at hemp on the whole.
We can think of a gazillion and one reasons to love hemp, but here are our top 5 nutrients.
Omega Fatty Acids
Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil (made from cold pressing the hemp seeds) rule the roost when it comes to Omega Fatty Acids. Because did you know that Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids need to be in the right ratios for your body to absorb them properly and reap the benefits? Namely, a 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3.
You see, many scientists believe that Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory, whereas omega 3 is anti-inflammatory. So having too much Omega 6 on its own can lead to inflammation and disease… It’s all about balance.
And the good news? Hemp seed oil has naturally perfected a 3:1 ratio. In fact, it’s one of the world’s best sources of Omega Fatty Acids. This crème da la crème ratio is best known for boosting heart health, reducing blood pressure, lowering inflammation and promoting healthy skin.
Hemp seeds are incredibly rich in Vitamin E – the superstar of the antioxidant world. Vitamin E works to keep free radicals (unstable molecules) in check. This helps to reduce oxidative stress and disease, such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Vitamin E also contributes to healthy skin and eyes.
Gamma Linolenic Acid
Gamma Linolenic Acid or GLA is actually a type of Omega 6 fatty acid, found in a small number of plant seed oils. Yep, hemp seed oil is one of the very few sources of GLA!
Okay, but what’s so good about it? GLA is believed to help ease skin conditions like eczema, reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, promote a healthy heart and help maintain weight loss. Not only that, a study into GLA and women with PMS found that consuming GLA daily resulted in a decrease of symptoms.
While GLA sounds very promising, more research needs to be done to draw any conclusions.
Whole hemp seeds contain an impressive amount of fibre, which assists digestive health. A diet that’s high in fibre can normalise bowel movements, lower cholesterol and even help boost your mood! In the words of Hippocrates, “all disease begins in the gut.” So if you look after your gut, good health often follows.
Did you know that around 25% of the calories in hemp seeds are from protein? This is similar (by weight) to the protein you’d get from beef and lamb – and comparable to other renowned seeds like chia seeds and flaxseeds. This makes for a great protein source for plant-based diets.
Are there any side effects of hemp?
Hemp is the golden child of the family. Unlike marijuana with its notorious psychoactive effects, hemp contains very low levels of THC. This means that hemp products are widely considered safe to consume. In fact, not only are they safe, but it’s one of – if not the most – nutritious and useful plants on our planet earth.
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