Hemp seeds have an astonishing balanced nutritional make-up. It is one of the plant kingdom's most concentrated, complete and balanced sources of all 10 essential amino acids (EAA's) and essential fatty acids (EFA's) which are necessary to maintain healthy human life. You can divide it roughly into three components.
First: There are the essential fatty acids in the oil -- omega-6, omega-3, omega-9 -- and also minor fatty acids like gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid, which is biosynthesized from the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
GLA and ALA cannot be made by the human body and must be obtained through the diet, so they are called essential fatty acids (EFA). GLA and ALA are the most important fatty acids in human nutrition and health. They are involved in producing life energy from food and the movement of that energy throughout the body. EFAs govern growth, vitality and state of mind. Still, much is unknown about their functioning in the body. This oil comprises 35% of the total seed weight and has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids at 8%, and the highest amount of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids at 80%. Flax seed oil comes in second at 72% combined total essential fatty acids.
Second: 35% consists mostly of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber possesses passive water-attracting properties that help to increase bulk, soften stool and shorten transit time through the intestinal tract. Soluble fiber undergoes metabolic processing via fermentation, yielding end-products with broad, significant health effects.
Thirdly: 25% consists of a complete and highly-digestible protein, 65% high-quality edestin protein, the most potent protein of any plant source, 35% albumin protein and glutamic acid. The globulin edestin in hemp seed closely resembles the globulin in blood plasma, and is compatible with the human digestive system. It is vital to the maintance of a healthy immune system and is also used to manufacture antibodies. Albumin is a protein manufactured by the liver that is supportive of liver and kidney health. Its high quality amino acid composition is closer to "complete" sources of proteins (meat, milk, eggs) than all other oil seeds except quinoa and soy.
Hemp seeds are also high in essential nutrients including chlorophyll, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, histidine, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin.Omega 3 to Omega 6 Ratio:
A variety of studies have documented the importance of the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 consumption. Hemp seed oil is the closest to this optimum ratio of any naturally occurring oil. Hemp seed oil has a ratio of at least one-to-three, Omega 3 to Omega 6. Oils with unbalanced ratios have been shown to have detrimental physiological effects.
My Thoughts: I love hemp seeds and my favorite product is 'Organic Shelled Hemp Seeds' from Nutiva. Hemp seeds have a great nutty flavor with a variety of uses. Nutiva uses the finest certified organic ingredients, their organic seeds are grown without any chemical pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers and their not genetically modified--safer for you and the planet. Their products are certified by Quality Assurance International(QAI)-which is a USDA authorized organic certifier. Nutiva Hemp Seeds Nutrition Chart
Another great way to get the health benefits of hemp seeds is to purchase, 'Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Oil', which is nutritionally superior to olive or flax oil, and so, makes a great alternative in salads, smoothies, and other non-frying uses.
It should be noted that you can also purchase 'whole hemp seeds' that are not 'hulled' (outer shell removed). They are a bit harder to find at your local grocery store, but there are lots of places on the internet where you can buy them. Whole hemp seeds are an excellent source of minerals and much more stable out in the air then hulled seed. However Nutiva takes great care in processing and packaging their 'hulled' hemp seeds creating maximum nutritional potential. I have recently ordered 'whole hemp seeds' from several manufactures and will be writing a future article on the best place to find them.On a separate note: I highly recommend everyone reading this, to watch a documentary called: Emperor of Hemp by Jack Herer. You will be amazed at how hemp fiber could revolutionize the world we live in, but as always the harvesting of hemp is outlawed to protect 'Big Corporation' from massive profit loss. All of which is truly at the expense of our planet. How To Eat Hemp Seeds: Incorporating hemp seeds in your diet is so easy. You can purchase whole hemp seeds, hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil. Simply just eat them raw, add them to a salad, replace olive oil with hemp seed oil, etc. I add 2 tbs of Hemp Seeds everyday to my ‘health shake’. Post a comment below and tell us how you use hemp seeds! Remember it's best to keep hemp seeds refrigerated and air tight. If you purchase a bulk 5-pound bag, consider adding a pound to a container for daily use, and seal up the 5-pound bag and place it in the freezer. This will help protect the seed and the nourishing Omega-3s which are sensitive to heat and oxygen. Where To Buy Hemp Seeds: You can buy them at Whole Foods and many grocery and health stores, there usually located in the vitamin department. I personally buy them online at www.Nutiva.com. Some grocery and health food stores have hemp seeds in the 'dry bin' section. The only reservation I have about this, is hemp seeds should be stored in a dark, sealed, air tight container and then kept at a cool temperature to preserve the nourishing Omega-3s which are sensitive to heat and oxygen, With the 'dry bins' you don't know where the hemp seeds came from, how long they have been there and they’re usually not sealed, in a cool place or certified organic.
Check out more great articles that will empower you to make positive changes in your health!