by Life Enthusiast Staff
Hemp seed is often called Superfood because of its wonderful balance of amino acids and essential fatty acids. It has been an important food source in many ancient cultures. Hemp seed is actually a fruit, related to sunflower seeds.
Hemp seeds can be used in baking and on salads, or to make milk, tofu, flour, butter and pasta. Hemp has protein content similar to soy beans, with one exceptional advantage: there is no known genetic tampering with hemp.
The principal product made from hemp seed today is undoubtedly the oil.
Hemp has superb properties for cleansing and moisturizing the skin, and hemp oil is also a nutritionist's dream. Hemp oil is a much better choice than flax seed oil as a dietary supplement. It contains large quantity of the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) in the right ratio for optimal health. It is a great source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is often taken to help with PMS.
Hemp oil should be taken daily, most commonly in liquid form. It is great in salad dressings or mayonnaise and tastes deliciously nutty. Because of its fragile EFAs it should not be used for frying or cooking, although it can be poured over pasta to give extra flavor.
Michael van Straten author of 'Super Foods for Children' wrote:
"It's really exciting to see the wheel coming full circle. For thousands of years hemp has been a source of health giving benefits and now thanks to the most modern scientific research we see yet again that the old wives knew best. Hemp oil will make a major contribution particularly in the relief of distressing skin conditions such as eczema."
Our Food Philosophy is based upon the simple assumption that a strong foundation provides longevity, whether it is a house or your health. We believe that no matter what diet, nutrition plan or food philosophy you subscribe to, everyone should eat Foundation Foods everyday, as they build health and wellness from the ground up.
ESSENTIAL- chock-full of nutrients that your body needs every day to be healthy
BALANCED - not super charged, just what nature intended in moderation so that your body can use every ounce
WHOLE - raw and live with minimal processing.
Hemp seed contains all 10 Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) - the building blocks of protein - and is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) in the near perfect ratio of 1:3. These nutrients are termed Essential because our bodies require them to function and cannot manufacture them. We must get EAAs and EFAs from the foods we eat or supplements.
Hemp Seeds are also the highest vegan source of edestin, a simple protein that is responsible for the natural and acquired immune system. Hemp is high in magnesium, and the natural antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C and chlorophyll.
And because hemp seeds are nutrient rich in a balanced way, you will not tire of the flavor - making this potent health food something you can eat daily.
Nutrients in Hemp Seed
The most basic hemp seed product is the shelled seed, sometimes referred to as the "hemp seed nut". The other major hemp food products are hemp seed nut butter, which resembles peanut and other nut butters, and cold-pressed hemp seed oil and hemp seed flour. These basic products can be consumed alone or used along with or instead of other grains, seeds, nuts, and oils in any appropriate recipe.
In terms of its nutrient content, shelled hemp seed is 34.6% protein, 46.5% fat, and 11.6% carbohydrate. The most important feature of hemp seed is that it provides both of the essential fatty acids (EFA's) needed in the human diet - linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid - as well as a complete and balanced complement of all essential amino acids.
As compared with most nuts and seeds, the 46.5% fat content of shelled hemp seed is relatively low, and hemp food products have a low cholesterol content and high content of the natural phytosterols that reduce harmful cholesterol levels. Hemp seed oil has on average the highest mono-and polyunsaturated fat content of all oils, taken collectively, of 89% (Table 2). The polyunsaturated linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, is present in hemp seed oil in a content of 55.6g/100g, and alpha-linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, is present at 17.2g/100g. The ratio of the two EFA's is 3.38, closely approximating the 4.0 average ratio recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), Sweden and Japan for the human diet.
Conveniently, hemp seed oil is also one of the only food oils to contain the direct metabolites of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid-gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and steariodonic acid (SDA), respectively. Because of this, it can circumvent the impaired EFA metabolism and physical compromise that can result from genetic factors, intake of other fats, aging, and lifestyle patterns.
By contrast with unsaturated fat, only 6.6% of the total calories in shelled hemp seed come from saturated fat-a percentage that contrasts sharply with the 13 to 14% of saturated fat calories in the modern American diet. This gives hemp seed oil a polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio of 9.7, in comparison to the current ratio of 0.44 in the American diet, and indicates that consuming even a small portion of hemp seed oil daily can contribute strongly to bringing this dietary imbalance back toward the US Senate select Committee recommended goal of 1.0.
Besides providing the human EFA's and having a favorable unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, hemp seed is an excellent dietary source of easily digestible, gluten-free protein. Its overall protein content of 34.6g/100g is comparable to that of soy beans and better than that found in nuts, other seeds, dairy products, meat, fish, or poultry.
Hemp protein provides a well-balanced array of the 10 essential amino acids for humans. An important aspect of hemp seed protein is a high content of arginine (123 mg/g protein) and histidine (27 mg/g protein) both of which are important for growth during childhood, and of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine (23 mg/g protein) and cysteine (16 mg/g protein), which are needed for proper enzyme formation. Hemp protein also contains relatively high levels of the branched-chain amino acids that are important for the metabolism of exercising muscle.
Other Hemp Nutrients
The carbohydrate content of shelled hemp seed is 11.5% and its sugar content is 2%. Of the shelled hemp seed carbohydrate, 6% is in the form of fiber. The fiber content of hemp seed flour is 40%, which is the highest of all commercial flour grains. In addition to containing the basic human nutrient groups, hemp foods have a high content of antioxidants (92.1mg/100g) in the form of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-toctrienol. Additionally, hemp seed contains a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals.
Hemp in Health and Disease Prevention
The high content of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and the relatively high phytosterol content of hemp foods, make them beneficial to cardiovascular health. Numerous human and animal studies have shown that substitution of polyunsaturated for saturated fats can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and fatal cardiac arrhythmia, as well as reducing blood cholesterol levels and decreasing the cellular proliferation associated with artherosclerosis. A high polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, especially when it includes linoleic acid, has also been positively associated with reduced arterial thrombosis. Additionally, phytosterols, of which hemp seed contains 438mg/100g, have been shown to reduce total serum cholesterol by an average of 10% and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by an average of 13%.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, and especially GLA, have been found beneficial in treating various human cancers, and studies have shown that phytosterols may offer protection against colon, breast and prostate cancers.
Besides the importance of a proper dietary ratio of linoleic to alpha-linolenic acid in maintaining the polyunsaturated fatty acid composition of neuronal and glial membranes, membrane loss of polyunsaturated fatty acids has been found in such neurodegenerative disorders as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and it has been suggested that a diet with a proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may help delay or reduce the neurologic effects of these diseases. A fatty acid preparation with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of 4, which is practically identical to that in hemp oil, has been shown to improve the quality of life of Alzheimer's disease patients.
Additionally, GLA has been found effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis and active synovitis, and the GLA and vitamin D content of hemp foods may make them beneficial in preventing and treating osteoporosis. Moreover, supplementation with products containing EFAs has been found capable of reversing scaly skin disorders, inflammation, excessive epidermal water loss, itch, and poor wound healing caused by EFA deficiency, and GLA has been shown to be beneficial for atopic eczema and psoriasis.
Hemp in Cosmetics and Processed Food Products
The critical importance of EFAs, and especially GLA, for healthy skin makes hemp seed oil a highly effective skin care and cosmetic product. Its lipid constituents allow it to permeate through intact skin and to thereby nourish skin cells directly while also carrying therapeutic substances with it into the skin. These properties have led to a multitude of soaps, shampoos, skin lotions, lip balms, conditioners, and other skin-care products containing hemp seed oil.
Among food products made from hemp seed, oil, and flour are beer, pasta, cheese, cookies, waffles, granola, candy, ice cream, and others, with new products now being regularly developed. In short, hemp can constitute an important element in nutrition, health, and cosmetics, with the prospect of playing a major role in preventing disease and reducing health care expenditures.