The benefits of hemp seeds and seed oils as dietary supplements have to do with the omega-3 fatty acid content and the natural anti-inflammatory activity. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids, often referred to as “healthy fats”.
Corn oil and many other vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, but low in omega-3s. Both are essential in the human diet, but omega-3s specifically are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and better brain function.
Omega-6s are converted within the body into inflammatory molecules. High intake of omega-6s, along with saturated fats, is associated with chronic or silent inflammation.
Doctors and scientists say that silent inflammation plays a role in many life-threatening health problems common in industrialized societies. Inflammation plays a major role in our two biggest killers, heart disease and cancer.
People whose diets are high in omega-3s have less heart disease. This has been proven through numerous studies conducted over the last three decades.
The anti-inflammatory activity of hemp is not due solely to the omega-3 content. As is the case with many other plants, the anti-inflammatory activity cannot be attributed to a single nutrient. The benefit is related to the combination of nutrients present in the whole food.
Because of the known hemp benefits, the seeds are sometimes included in energy bars, granola mixtures and other health foods. Parts of the plant are used as milk substitutes and as a seasoning.
The fresh leaves can be consumed as a salad green. They can be juiced and used in healthy drinks.
As a food, the item is not particularly popular in North America. Federal law prohibits growing the plant, because growing marijuana is illegal. However, there are many varieties of the plant and only a few of them have a high enough THC content to be useful as recreational drugs.
The nutritional breakdown of hemp seeds is similar to that of soy. The protein and amino acid content is nearly complete when compared to other protein sources. Because of this, the seeds are sometimes recommended for vegetarian protein supplementation.
In some parts of the world, the plant can be purchased alongside other produce. In all parts of the world, health foods containing the ingredient can be ordered online. It is easier to find foods containing the ingredient than to find the pure oil or the hulled seeds. The combination foods are also less expensive.
Although this is sometimes referred to as a complete food, there is no food that provides all of the nutrients you need every day to be healthy. The health benefits of hemp are not unlike those of other foods. You can include the food in your diet, but do not rely solely on it to keep you healthy.