Hemp is a plant so versatile in its uses, it’s hard to believe there are some fools among us who stifle its uses. It’s a shame, because around the globe, hemp has been used for centuries to make rope, wax, paper, cloth, fuel and as a food source. Nutritionally, the seeds of the plant are one of the most complete sources of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and potent antioxidant activity.
Excellent Plant-Based Source of Protein and Essential Fatty Acids
Hemp seed offers a high quality protein source with an amino acid profile that exceeds many meat and dairy-based protein sources; this can be extremely attractive to vegetarians and vegans. A recent Chinese study examined hemp seed to evaluate its physiochemical and chemical composition. The results revealed a protein content higher than most grains and nuts and concentrations of unsaturated fats in excess of 90%, much more than most vegetable oils.  The polyunsaturated fatty acids were primarily comprised of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids. High concentrations of vitamin E were also observed. 
The results of this study set the bar for hemp seed and indicated it is truly one of the most nutritious foods available. Let’s start by taking a look at how linoleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids have been identified as essential to health…
The Benefits of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) as found in hemp seed has been associated with…
- Balanced lipid levels
- Reduced redness and swelling in the body
- Stable blood pressure
- Smoother, healthier skin
- Healthy brain function
- Immune system support
- Reduced problems associated with blood clotting
Studies have also demonstrated that people with low levels of ALA may suffer from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome can be a problem as it increases the risk for type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 
Linoleic Acid: Good for Skin and Hair, Great for Organs
Studies have shown linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) occurs naturally, in hefty amount, in hemp seed.  Appropriate proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids must be maintained for health — and hemp seed offers an almost perfect balance. Linoleic acid contributes to radiant skin, liver and kidney function, hair growth, proper immune function and cardiovascular health.
Hemp Seed Has Powerful Antioxidant Activity
Researchers have determined hemp seed contains high phenolic content and powerful antioxidant properties. In one test, hemp seed antioxidants outperformed flaxseed, soybean, and grapeseed extracts in total antioxidant activity. It also provided greater protection against LDL oxidation, a common factor in cardiovascular problems.  Additional antioxidant activity was observed in its amino acid profile. 
Hemp Seed for Complete Cardiovascular and Brain Support
Hemp seed also contains vitamin E, an essential vitamin for cardiovascular and brain health. Without vitamin E, brain function suffers and voluntary muscle control can be lost — big problem. Vitamin E provides important antioxidant effects for polyunsaturated fatty acids (the omega-3s and -6s) as it protects them from oxidation and supports cardiovascular health. 
Another added bonus with hemp seed is that hemp seed provides an ideal medium for vitamin E absorption because vitamin E is fat-soluble, ensuring greater vitamin E bioavailability.
There are a lot of ways to consume hemp seed, what’s your favorite? Please leave a comment below and share it with us!
- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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- Chen T, He J, Zhang J, Zhang H, Qian P, Hao J, Li L. Analytical characterization of Hempseed (seed of Cannabis sativa L.) oil from eight regions in China. J Diet Suppl. 2010 Jun;7(2):117-29. doi: 10.3109/19390211003781669.
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- Chen T, He J, Zhang J, Li X, Zhang H, Hao J, Li L. The isolation and identification of two compounds with predominant radical scavenging activity in hempseed (seed of Cannabis sativa L.). Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134(2):1030-7. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.03.009. Epub 2012 Mar 12.
- Girgih AT, Udenigwe CC, Aluko RE. Reverse-phase HPLC separation of hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) protein hydrolysate produced peptide fractions with enhanced antioxidant capacity. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2013 Mar;68(1):39-46. doi: 10.1007/s11130-013-0340-6.
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