The Powerful Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Hemp Foods

The Powerful Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Hemp Foods

Functional foods are those that are near-to or wholly natural. While the movement towards eating for wellbeing has been bubbling away for some time, it has exploded in popularity with the pandemic sharpening the focus on food-as-medicine.

Industrial hemp foods come from the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Technically these seeds are actually a nut and from them, we derive foods such as hemp seed oil, protein powders and hemp hearts containing approximately 30 percent oil, 25 percent protein, essential fatty acids, GLA (gamma linolenic acid), fibre, vitamins and minerals.

There are numerous clinical studies now that prove industrial hemp foods can help and even go so far as prevent many chronic conditions such as inflammation, skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and eczema, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

What Are Essential Fatty Acids?

Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that include omega 3 and 6. The science is a complex jargon of carbons and chemical compositions but suffice to say our bodies can’t make omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, so we must get them from our diet. They are called ‘essential’ because if we don’t get enough of them from food we will become deficient and ultimately our health will decline.

Omega 3 Alpha Linolenic Acid Fats

These help contribute to the health of our cell membranes, heart, brain and metabolism. A deficiency has been linked to depression, anxiety, joint pain and skin issues. Omega 3 use is believed to help improve a plethora of conditions such as heart disease, blood clot formation, eczema, ADHD in children, sleep, PMS, menopausal symptoms, bone health, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, cognitive function and eye health.

Omega 6 Linolenic Acid Fats

Omega 6 is important for energy. Typically modern diets provide too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 which is why it’s important to get the balance of these two essential fatty acids right. The ratio of 3:1 is considered optimal.

Omega 3 is believed to be anti-inflammatory and omega 6 pro-inflammatory. To clarify that omega 6 from unhealthy sources, such as the trans fats found in cookies, cakes and processed fatty foods increase inflammation. Omega 6 derived from hemp seed oil is not the same as the omega 6 fat from the sources above. We should be aiming for an average of three serves of omega 6 to one serve of omega 3 to promote good health and reduce our risk for developing cardiovascular disease, cancer and other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Hemp seed has this optimal balance to help maintain good health.

The Inflammation Equation

Modern diets often serve up a 20:1 ratio of these essential fatty acids in processed foods which can be inflammatory. This is concerning as scientists have discovered links between inflammation and modern disease. Inflammation itself isn’t a bad thing and is necessary for our bodies healing reaction in the event of bacterial illnesses or when injuries such as cuts and sunburn occur. However, chronic or ongoing inflammation can be a precursor to diseases like heart disease, arthritis and many cancers. It’s also now linked with premature ageing and obesity.

Hemp Seed Oil

This is why we think of hemp seed oil as “nature’s most perfectly balanced plant oil”. It contains the 3:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 – or three parts linoleic acid to one part alpha-linolenic acid – the perfect proportion for the human body.

What Is GLA?

GLA or gamma linoleic acid is an omega 6 fat, which despite omega 6’s inflammatory reputation has been shown to help reduce inflammatory incidence in the body. Hemp seed oil contains more GLA than any other plant and certainly any other edible plant oil. This combined with the fact that it’s an oil that contains ideal omega 3 and 6 levels is believed to be why it helps relieve joint pain, PMS and other related conditions. GLA also plays an important and beneficial role in weight management, hormone balance and support, brain health and healthy skin, hair and nails.

Protein Powder

When it comes to industrial hemp foods they are protein powerhouses. Protein is often called the building block of the body as its main role is to grow and repair our tissues and organs.

Industrial hemp seeds contain about 20-25 percent protein whereas flax and chia seeds are abut 16-18 percent protein. Industrial hemp seeds actually contain similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb and 2-3 tablespoons will provide approximately 11 grams of protein. The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation  recommends a daily intake of 46 grams for adult women and 64 grams for adult men.

A couple of the proteins that make up hemp food are in the form of edestin, which mimics our body’s natural proteins and albumin, the protein found in egg whites. Both of these proteins are high-quality and easily digested. They also contain good amounts of all the essential amino acids including arginine. Our bodies don’t make nine of the essential amino acids we need so we need to get them through diet.

This composition of proteins and amino acids make industrial hemp foods a complete protein something that is rare in the plant world with soy protein and quinoa being the only other plant-based alternatives.

Vitamins & Minerals

Industrial hemp foods are particularly rich in vitamin E and contain an abundance of minerals such as phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium.

These minerals have numerous actions in the body such as aiding in bone and tooth health, muscle growth, cognitive function, blood sugar stability, a robust immune system and facilitating good gut absorption of nutrients.


Fibre plays a key role in good digestion and keeping us regular. Whole hemp seeds serve up high amounts fibre with most of it being found in the seed’s outer shell.

The two different types of fibre have different roles:

  • Soluble fibre absorbs fluid like a sponge, lowers cholesterol, and helps to keep blood sugar stable.
  • Insoluble fibre helps form healthy, bulky stools ensuring a smooth passage for waste.

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