Hemp Seed: a Vegan Source of Healthy Fat, Protein, Vitamins and Minerals

Hemp Seed: a Vegan Source of Healthy Fat, Protein, Vitamins and Minerals

Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview

J.C. Callaway

2004

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) positively impact human and animal health in a variety of systems, including the cardiovascular and neurological
  • Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be produced by animals and must be obtained through the diet
  • Linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid (omega 6 and 3, respectively) are essential to the well being and enhanced health of both humans and companion animals
  • This study concluded that hempseed oil has a content of over 80% in PUFAs and is exceptionally rich in omega 6 and 3
  • The ratio of omega 6 to 3 in hemp seeds is the optimal one and the one associated with little heart disease prevalence
  • The protein profile of hempseed oil is equally beneficial, containing some of the essential amino acids  
  • The study proved that the claimed healing and therapeutic properties of hempseed oil are supported by its nutritious profile 
  • Hempseed oil is an excellent source of nutrition and has been effectively demonstrated as an useful addition to animal diet 

OBJECTIVES & HYPOTHESIS → The seed of the hemp plant has been an important source of nutrition for thousands of years. However, the prohibition of the cultivation of all Cannabis varieties interrupted the potential use and development of hempseed as a food for humans and domesticated animals. Nonetheless, hempseed oil has again gained popularity as a nutritional source due to the clinical evidence supporting its benefits in human and animal health. By these means, the current study aimed to analyze a variety of the hemp plant in order to determine its fat and protein profile to determine whether its administration can enhance and ameliorate the health of both humans and domestic animals.  

METHODS → Analytical analysis was performed in a hemp plant in order to assess its constituents. Both hemp seed oil and crushed hemp seeds were tested. 

RESULTS → This study demonstrated that hempseed oil is 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). Moreover, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in hempseed oil is between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for health. In fact, the ratio between 2:1 and 3:1 is the one found in the Japanese and Mediterranean diets, where the incidence of coronary heart disease is and has been low. In regard to its protein profile, the two main proteins in hempseed are albumin and edestin, both of which are rich in the amino acids essential to human health. A direct comparison of protein amino acid profiles from egg white, hempseed and soybean was also performed and showed that hempseed protein is comparable to these other high quality proteins. All these results form a basis to suggest both nutraceutical and therapeutic properties of hempseed. In particular, EFAs cannot be produced by animals nor humans and must therefore be obtained through the diet. Dietary PUFAs have been shown to have a variety of positive impacts in human and animal health, notably favoring the fat profile (which in turn is protective towards heart and arterial diseases) and maintaining vital characteristics of cells and neuronal membranes within the central nervous system. In conclusion, as a source of vegetable nutrition, both hemp seeds and hempseed oil are an excellent source of nutrition and rich sources of protein and polyunsaturated oils, in addition to considerable amounts of vitamins and useful minerals. 


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