Hemp seed and hemp oil have many well documented benefits for human health, with no environmental downsides.
January 30, 2019 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you’re hearing a lot about hemp — hemp protein, hemp milk, hemp seeds, hemp oil — you’re not alone. Hemp, marijuana’s more sober sister, is packed with nutritional benefits that more than merit its soaring popularity. A landmark analysis of the nutritional importance of hemp seed oil highlighted its considerable benefits in 2000, after which numerous studies and literature reviews have explored hemp as a functional food with anticancer and cardiovascular benefits, among many others.
Fortunately, hemp products such as hemp seed oil and hemp seeds (both hulled and whole), as well as products made from them, are becoming easier to obtain. Here are some of the many reasons your body needs hemp today:
Getting right to the heart of the matter, hemp oil is super rich in healthy fats, and in fact contains the perfect balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, known as essential fatty acids. The optimal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 3:1, but in the standard American diet it’s more like 20:1. Omega-6 oils play an an important role in healing because our bodies turn them into inflammatory agents.
Great, right? Not if you have too much. Getting enough Omega-3 oils balances out that inflammation and has been proven to lower the risk of coronary artery disease by thinning the blood and helping blood vessels stay open. Hemp seeds also contain high levels of arginine, an amino acid that turns into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is essential for artery and vein dilation, helping keep blood vessel walls smooth and elastic. It’s basically yoga for blood vessels. I like to add a shot of hemp seed oil and a scoop of seeds to my smoothies, but many of my friends take hemp oil capsules as a supplement.
Trusting your gut is important, but you’ve got to treat it well, too. Hemp seed oil reduces inflammation throughout the body thanks to the healthy fats it contains, lowering the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Whole hemp seeds, crunchy little morsels that liven up my oatmeal and baked goods, are up to 15 percent fiber by weight, which most of us need because it balances the gut microbiome and reduces inflammation levels throughout our bodies.
The FDA says that most Americans aren’t getting the recommended 25 mg of dietary fiber per day, which increases our risk factors for an array of problems, from irregularity to heart disease. The insoluble fiber in whole hemp seeds helps form bulk and keep things moving, if you know what I mean, while soluble fiber can help lower your low-density lipids (LDL or “bad cholesterol”). That’s just another way hemp seeds are good for your heart. I keep this in mind when I need to hide some extra protein and fiber in my growing son’s food. I quickly throw a scoop of EVO Hemp Protein Supplement into his smoothies, or substitute a tablespoon of flour with it in my baked goods. One thing I really love about this brand is that they buy their hemp from Native American farmers on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The high protein content and abundant healthy fats in hulled hemp seeds make them perfect for maintaining a healthy weight and boosting metabolism. Remember the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids I mentioned above? While it’s helping your heart and blood vessels, it’s also tamping down inflammation, which helps reduce your risk of obesity.
The Omega-3 oils have been shown to boost overall metabolism while regulating fat metabolism. One of my favorite easy and healthy hemp-based foods is the Hemp Way Foods Hemp Burger. It combines a powerhouse blend of hemp seeds, chia, lentils and raw quinoa, packed with 25 percent of your daily protein requirements and 30 percent of daily iron. Free of corn, soy, dairy and gluten, Hemp Burgers are great for a quick meal or to feed a crowd.
Not to be superficial, but if something you throw in your smoothie or on your salad can give your skin more of a glow, why wouldn’t you use it?
Most people’s skin is starved for the kinds of Omega fatty acids in hemp seeds and hemp seed oil. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, which translates to less redness. But the real surprise is that hemp seed oil is antimicrobial, so it actually removes bacteria that cause breakouts. My number one favorite household and personal care hemp product is Dr. Bronner’s 18-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap. You know, the one with about 15 minutes worth of reading material on the label? I use it as a body wash, hand wash and for all kinds of gentle, non-toxic household cleaning.
All of you!
Between hemp’s anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties, and its ability to kill some of the nastiest germs around — pneumococcal, streptococcal and staphylococcal bacteria among others — hemp seed oil is just really good for every part of you. The trace amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) oil in regular hemp seed oil soothe the central nervous system while reducing overall pain and inflammation (that’s on top of what the essential fatty acids are already doing). CBD is already known as a miracle worker for children with epilepsy, but it is considered both health-promoting in general and extremely safe. An industry insider tipped me off to Aceso Calm – Spray, which uses CBD with complementary compounds called terpenes from grapefruit and lavender to soothe the nervous system in stressful moments.
Hemp products like hemp seed oil and CBD oil are good for you and they’re also good for the planet. Hemp is a renewable resource that can help reduce our dependence on fishing, livestock industries and other unsustainable agriculture practices. Incorporating hemp into your diet supports your health, environmentally responsible food production, soil remediation and reduction in agricultural pesticide use. It’s an ideal time to incorporate more hemp into your healthly lifestyle – today.