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Why is Hempseed so beneficial?
When talking about hemp foods and hemp body-care products, we mean products made from hempseeds. Botanically, the seeds are tiny nuts that develop on the female flowers of the hemp plants. Then they are mature in late summer, they develop a thin, crunchy hull, gray or brownish in color with a marbled pattern. The seeds are small: 1,000 of them weigh, depending on the variety, 0.5 to 0.9 ounces (15 to 25 grams). For comparison, 1,000 hulled peanuts weigh about 18 to 25 ounces (500 to 700 grams).
The seed hull or shell protects the embryo, which consists of two pale seed leaves (the “meat” of the seed) and a tiny root. The shell contains mainly dietary fiber-carbohydrates that we can eat but not digest-and chlorophyll, which gives hemp oil its green color. The 1895 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture stated: (See data base for entire text of afore mentioned document on this website.)
“The nut-like fruits, commonly called seeds, are used in great quantities in bird food. They are nearly egg-shaped in outline, flattened at the margins.
Color, dark gray, with fine, net-like, whitish markings on the smooth and shiny surface. The seeds...are filled with a whitish embryo which yields 30 to 35 percent of a mild-tasting oil, greenish yellow when freshly pressed, becoming brownish yellow with age. Hempseed oil is used to a considerable extent in the preparation of paints and varnishes...In Europe it enters largely into the composition of soft soaps...Hemp will thrive in most parts of the United States...The value of hemp for fiber, birdseed, and oil would seem to make its cultivation a very profitable one.”
The meat represents the seed’s “power bar” for energy storage and building materials. Proteins, small amounts of carbohydrates, and fat stored in tiny oil droplets in the cells make up most of the meat. Additional ingredients are found in smaller quantities: vitamins, phospholipids such as lecithin, phytosterols, and others.
Compared to other nuts, hempseeds have a few points in their favor:
Their flavor makes the seeds as tasty as they are nutritious.
While numerous grains and nuts (e.g., soybeans, flax seeds, walnuts, and canola) provide some of these benefits, none has an overall nutritional profile that is so comprehensive and balanced.
TYPICAL SPECIFICATIONS FOR UNREFINED HEMP OIL FATTY ACID ANALYSIS
Chemical Analysis (Detailed data base in this website)
Hemp Oil: A Natural, Healthy Blend
Hemp oil has so far been the most visible of all hempseed products. The following review will provide a good understanding of the oil’s potential benefits and nutritional appeal.
Fats and oils, also called lipids, are similar in their chemical composition. By definition, fats - primarily obtained from land animals - are solid at room temperature, while oils - primarily obtained from land animals-are solid at room temperature, while oils - primarily from fish and plant seeds - are liquid. Both are build from fatty acids, some of nature’s fundamental building blocks. Their high energy content also makes them a valuable food and storage medium.
How do lipids get from our food to our cells? Thorough chewing and the digestive juices and churning action of the stomach emulsify lipids into small droplets. In the small intestine, bile and pancreatic juices are added and the oil droplets are partially disassembled by enzymes. This allow the lipids to cross the intestinal wall into the blood stream which then transports them to the tissue cells. Once they arrive, the lipids are oxidized for energy production, built into cell membranes, or reassembled and stored as reserve fat in our cells and adipose tissue. Excess lipids are removed from circulation by the liver, the key organ for lipid metabolism. It regulates the synthesis of cholesterol from fatty acids, as well as the degradation of excess cholesterol, depending on the body’s current needs.
The following section explains the nature of fatty acids and the basic concepts of their metabolism.
Fatty acids: Properties and Metabolism Fats and oils consist to more than 90 percent of so- called trighycerides. These molecules are built from a glycerol “backbone” to which three fatty acids are attached with ester bonds. The three fatty acids on a triglyceride can be all the same or all different types. The size and shape of the fatty acids determine the physical and chemical properties of an oil and its nutritional value.
Fatty acids are chains of varying length, made of carbon (c-)atoms and enveloped by a hull of hydrogen (H-)atoms. The “omega” or “methyl” end of the chain is hydrophobic-it dislikes water. A carboxylic acid group (-COOH) renders the other end “water-liking.” In natural fats and oils, the chain length of fatty acids may vary from 4 to 28 C-atoms. Most common in vegetable oils are chain lengths of 16 to 20. There are two distinct groups of fatty acids.
In saturated fatty acids, every C-atom is bound to its neighboring C-atom by stable “saturated” bonds. Triglycerides composed mainly of saturated fatty acids align well. They are more “sticky” and solid at room temperature, and they make up the typical fats. The body uses saturated fatty acids shorter than 12 C- atoms mostly for rapid energy production.
Because saturated bonds are also more resistant to oxidation, fats high in saturated fatty acids are less prone to turning rancid. Major sources are animal fats (butter, lard, beef tallow), coconut, and palm kernel fats and oils. Because of their stability and low cost they have traditionally been used for frying. Unfortunately, some of them also increase blood levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol, a sticky substance that helps form arterial plaque (blood-vessel deposits that impede blood flow and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes). Unsaturated fatty acids feature at least one unsaturated, or double, bond between C-atoms. Unsaturated fatty acids are specified by their count of C-atoms and double bonds, and by the location of the first double bond in the chain. For example, alpha-linolenic acid has 18 C-atoms and three double bonds. The first one is located on the third C-atom, counting from the omega end. Thus, its shorthand formula is (18:3 omega-3).
Unsaturated bonds cause fatty acids to bend. This increases the flexibility and reduces the stickiness of these fatty acids and their triglycerides. Unsaturated fatty acids also react more easily with oxygen, free radicals, and other organic compounds. While it suits technical applications, such as in paint, and provides healthy benefits, this instability also makes oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) less stable. Several PUFAs have important specific functions in the human body.
Essential fatty acids: Particularly important for human nutrition are the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha- linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). These cannot be synthesized by the body and must be present in our diet. Both EFA’s are used for building cell membranes, in which they maintain fluidity, and to produce energy. They are raw materials for plenty of vital substances such as prostaglandins. Most oil seeds contain linoleic acid, but substantial amounts of alpha-linolenic acid are found in only a few common seeds and nuts: flax (typically 58 percent), hemp (15 to 20 percent), canola (13 percent), soybean (7 percent), and walnut (7 percent). The fats of land animals usually contain little alpha-linolenic acid. For these reasons this acid is often deficient in our diet.
Omega families: A fraction of the two EFAs is metabolized, or converted by enzymes, to longer and more unsaturated fatty acids. In humans, the metabolites of either EFA maintain the location of the first double bond, in that way keeping their omega rating. Thus, these EFAs and their corresponding metabolites are often grouped into omega-3 and -6 families. Likewise, the mounsaturated oleic acid and its metabolites are often referred to as the omega-9 family.
The longer chain PUFAs serve as building blocks for eicosanoids, a series of potent hormone-like substances that regulate many cell functions. They include prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, and leuketrienes. These short-lived messenger substances control-often in competition with each other-the progress of inflammation, fever, and pain. They increase or reduce blood pressure and affect the coagulation of thrombocytes. Because both omega- families are metabolized by the same enzyme system, a severe imbalance in EFA supply shifts the balance in some of the functions controlled by these metabolites.
Omega-3 and omega-6 deficiencies: Because alpha- linolenic acid contains three double bonds, it oxidizes much faster than linoleic acid. This reduces the shelf life of oils high in alpha-linolenic acid, making them unsuitable for frying and unpopular with oil producers and food processors. To raise the melting point and improve stability of these oils, they are routinely hardened or hydrogenated, which converts some of the unsaturated bonds into saturated ones. Also, plant-breeding efforts in recent years have focused on reducing the content of alpha- linolenic acid, for example in soybean oils. This trend, combined with the low content of alpha- linolenic acid in animal fat, is largely responsible for the deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids in the typical North American diet.
Some people suffer from deficiencies in higher omega-3 and omega-6 metabolites and their prostaglandins, even if they eat sufficient quantities of EFAs. Here, the conversion of EFAs in higher PUFAs by the delta-6 desaturase enzyme is impaired by genetic factors, or by dietary ones such as a high intake of cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans-fatty acids. Other factors include poor health (e.g., diabetes, a viral infection), aging, or lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol consumption or stress. Also, excessive intake of one EFA will inhibit proper metabolism of the other, since the same enzymes are used to metabolize both EFAs. These factors may thus cause deficiencies in higher PUFAs and require changes in diet or direct supplementation. The primary omega-6 supplement is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3 omega-6), found in high concentrations in the oils of evening primrose (7 to 9 percent), borage (18 to 24 percent), and black currant (15 to 18 percent). Vegetable oils are not a relevant source of the higher omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are usually supplied by seafood and fish oils. Alternatively, eggs from hens fed with DHA-rich algae are becoming available as a source of DHA. Unlike help oil, fish oils are unsuitable for cooking because of their taste and their tendency to oxidize rapidly, and they are used exclusively as dietary supplements. Hemp oil contains low to moderate concentrations of GLA (1 to 4 percent) and stearidonic acid (18:4 omega- 3, 0.5 to 2 percent). Thus, hemp oil is both a versatile food oil and a moderate supplement for both higher omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, it provides the EFAs, i.e., the parents of each omega family, in a favorable omega-6/omega-3 ratio of about 3:1. Compared to the average ratio of 4:1 to 6:1 recommended by international health organizations, it thus adds a little more omega-3 and makes us for the omega-3 shortage in the rest of our food supply.
Cis-and trans-fatty acids: The double bonds of unsaturated fatty acids may occur in either a “cis” or a “trans” configuration. Fatty acids in vegetable oils contain primarily cis-double bonds, which cause the curved shape. High temperatures during refining hydrogenation, and deep frying convert some of the double bonds into the trans configuration. A trans- bond makes a straighter molecule, similar to that of a saturated fatty acid. Clinical studies suggest that trans-fatty acids-similar to saturated fatty acids- increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and should be limited in our diet. For nutritional labeling purposes, they should be grouped with saturated rather than with unsaturated fatty acids. Unrefined hemp oil contains few to no trans-fatty acids. Cooking with hemp oil will not usually raise these trans-levels significantly, since oil temperatures need to be kept below 320 degrees F anyway, to avoid smoking and fatty-acid oxidation. Thus, the intake of trans-fatty acids via hemp oil is, as with other PUFA-rich cold- pressed oils, of little practical concern.
The Composition of Hemp Oil The fatty-acid spectrum of hemp oil is at the heart of its nutritional benefits. In comparison to other unrefined edible oils, hemp oil features a very high percentage of EFAs-typically 75 percent. More importantly, a high proportion (15 to 25 percent) is omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, found in revenant quantities in only a few other commonly used cooking oils such as soybean or canola oil. Flax oil, which contains more than 50 percent alpha-linolenic acid, is a valuable nutritional supplement but, for taste and stability reasons, not a good cooking oil. In hemp oil the monounsaturated oleic acid contributes 10 to 15 percent, and total saturated fatty acids account for 9 to 11 percent of total fatty acids. In addition it contains low percentages of several other PUFAs that play an important role in human metabolism. Most notable are gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3 omega-6) and stearidonic acid (18:4 omega-3), i.e., the first metabolites in the omega-6 and omega-3 families, respectively. Their content varies considerably with variety and growing conditions. Varieties adapted to Northern latitudes produce oils with higher concentrations of these fatty acids. For example, FIN-324, a cultivar bred in Finland and now grown in Canada, has GLA and stearidonic acid levels of 4 and 2 percent, respectively-considerably higher than varieties from Central Europe and China. This demonstrates the great potential for improving the fatty-acid spectrum of hemp oil through breeding. Consequently, breeders in Europe and Canada are developing varieties with a higher oil yield and a GLA content of more than 6 percent.
In cold-pressed, unrefined hemp oil, typically 0.5 to 2 percent of fatty acids are not connected to a glycerol backbone but afloat in the oil as free fatty acids (FFAs). FFA levels are higher in immature or improperly handled seeds. At even higher concentrations, FFAs cause a scratchy feeling in the throat, as well as rapid smoking when the oil is pan- heated. Oils with less than 1 percent of FFAs are usually labeled “extra virgin.”
The fat-soluble compounds of the vitamin E complex, tocopherols and tocotrienols, are another important constituent of hemp oil. Nature has added these antioxidants to protect oils from oxidation and rancidity. Convently, antioxidants also provide health benefits, mainly by trapping excess free radicals. In his comprehensive book on fats and nutrition, Fats That Heal-Fats That Kill, Udo Erasmus writes: “...free radicals serve vital, normal functions, but can also injure, age, degenerate, and kill our cells and tissues.: Vitamin E slows degenerative diseases and may prevent or even cure thrombotic diseases. Recent research suggests that vitamin E may also inhibit brain-cell death in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Since many carcinogens act via free radicals, vitamin E can also reduce the corresponding cancer risk. Due to their promise of life extension, antioxidants have become very popular as food supplements. Yet they are generally more effective as ingredients in our food, rather than in capsule form.
Hemp oil, compared to other cold-pressed and unrefined vegetable oils-olive, sunflower, canola-has a moderate to high content of vitamin E compounds. Typical levels are 100 to 150 milligrams per 100 grams of oil, predominantly gamma-tocopherol. This makes hemp oil a valuable source of vitamin E; 1 to 2 tablespoons meet daily requirements. Shelled hempseeds supply the same balanced fatty acids and antioxidants, wrapped up in valuable proteins.
Finally, unrefined hemp oil also contains modest amounts of several other beneficial or even essential constituents. Worth mentioning are:
Good for Your Heart: The Choice of the Right Fats Numerous clinical studies have shown that both oversupply of fat and deficiencies in some PUFAs are responsible for many common illnesses. These studies and surveys of dietary habits in Western countries have generated several widely accepted facts on fats:
With these facts in mind, healthy officials and nutritional experts agree on the following general rules regarding fat intake:
A Nutritionally Ideal Oil
Thus, consider cold-pressed hemp oil. It is not an all-purpose oil; because of its instability, it should not be used for frying. Rather, it is one of the most healthful “package deals” in vegetable oil available, and is a fine element in a balanced and tasty diet.
Nutritional and Therapeutic Advantages through the Use of Hemp and its Natural Oils.Clogged arteries caused by too many saturated fatty acids are not the only disease that can be attributed to the fats in our food. A lack or imbalance of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the body also contributes to, or even causes, some of the more common diseases in Western societies. Severe EFA deficiency itself is rare and generally related to malabsorption problems, e.g., in patients with cystic fibrosis. Rather, an imbalance of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and their metabolites, the prostaglandins, is the more common problem. Since EFAs, the parents of the two major omega families, need to come with our food, the fat composition of our diets is obviously a prime cause for these imbalances. In such cases, switching to a “fat-healthy” diet provides a simple cure. Stress, other lifestyle factors, or genetic factors resulting in the lack of a specific enzyme, can also shift our omega balance and promote these illnesses, affecting the skin and the immune and nervous systems.
The good news is: several clinical studies have shown that some of these illnesses can be prevented or even cured by taking supplements rich in EFAs or their metabolites, such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Hemp oil contains both EFAs in a good balance and also supplies both first-generation EFA metabolites, GLA and stearidonic acid. So using or eating hemp oil can be an effective way of preventing and treating these illnesses. And unlike evening primrose, borage, and fish oils, this oil is tasty and can be used for cooking, thus allowing its valuable contents to become a natural part of our diet. However, those who prefer to take their hemp oil as a dietary supplement will find gel caps readily available.
The following is a partial list of illnesses found to respond to treatment with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Atopic Eczema (Neurodermitis) and Psoriasis Patients with atopic eczema suffer from agonizing itching, especially at night. Because of low activity of the perspiratory and sebaceous glands, the skin feels very dry and brittle. Atopic eczema, like psoriasis, is characterized by a high water loss through the skin. A deficiency in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is associated with these diseases. One theory is that low enzymatic activity results in slower conversion of linoleic acid to GLA, causing a prostaglandin imbalance.
Clinical trials with GLA supplementation have demonstrated gradual improvement in atopic eczema symptoms. Patients required considerably less use of anti-itching and antihistamine drugs. Hemp oil, due to its moderate GLA content, may assist in the prevention and treatment of this disease. The daily oral dose found to improve skin condition over a twelve-week period corresponds to about four teaspoons of hemp oil per day, (or 12 teaspoons of hemp seeds), which is easily incorporated into the diet.
The external use of salves and creams containing hemp oil further supports the barrier function of the skin, helps relieve skin itching, and aids in the recovery of atopic eczema patients. Omega-6 fatty acids are also involved in regulating water loss through the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. It was shown that skin conditions in atopic eczema patients improved after repeated external application of an ointment containing GLA.
Acne PUFAs have well-known anti-inflammatory properties, and skin creams containing omega-6 fatty acids have been found effective in the therapeutic treatment of acne skin conditions. Hemp oil’s high omega-6 content can therefore be beneficially used in skin-care products for skin with acne problems.
Cardiovascular Disease Most cardiovascular disease is caused by the formation of arterial plague-fatty deposits on the interior walls of the blood vessels that, over time, harden and impede flood flow in a condition known as arteriosclerosis. This process may eventually block blood flow and cause a stroke or a heart attack. LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, a sticky lipid present in the blood, is a major contributor to arterial plaque. Among other factors, such as smoking and stress, the intake of saturated fatty acids contributes to high blood LDL levels. Dietary treatment of patients with daily doses of linoleic acid and GLA (omega-6) equivalent to five teaspoons of hemp oil, (fifteen teaspoons of hemp) was shown to rapidly decrease elevated blood levels of both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of thrombosis. Another study showed that omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced the risk of sudden cardiac death among survivors of heart attacks. Thus, the replacement of many other dietary oils and fats with a diet rich in hemp will help reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Diseases Patients with rheumatoid arthritis suffer from joints that are chronically inflamed, causing pain, immobility, and eventual deformation of the joints. Some fatty acids, including GLA, and their metabolites, the prostaglandins, have well-known anti- inflammatory and immune-system-stimulating properties. Daily oral administration of 1.2 to 1.4 grams of GLA over a period of twelve weeks was found to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis significantly, without causing side effects. Clinical studies have also shown that intake of omega-3 fatty acids has anti-inflammatory effects in the treatment of chronic bladder infection and inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Finally, PUFA intake may reduce the risk of serious inflammatory complications following surgery.
Osteoporosis, the gradual decay of the bones with age, is caused by a loss of bone substance, particularly calcium. Back pain, height loss, a curved spine, and easily fracturing bones are its effects. Osteoporosis is usually accompanied by the calcification of arteries and kidneys - a frequent cause of vascular deaths, particularly in women. Animal studies have shown the EFA deficiency can cause severe osteoporosis. Likewise, dietary supplementation with EFAs increases calcium absorption from the gut, reduces urinary excretion, increases calcium desposition in bones, and enhances bone- collagen synthesis, there improving bone strength. The effects were attributed to an increase in circulating prostaglandins, metabolites of the EFAs. Supplementation with the higher omega-6 fatty acid GLA was even more effective. Thus hemp seeds nuts and their oil, with its moderate content of GLA and well- balanced ratio of EFAs helps to prevent osteoporosis.
PMS and Menopause: PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, affects many women before the onset of their monthly period. It can cause depression, irritability, swelling of the breasts, and painful muscular tension. Studies show that women with PMS suffer from a disorder in the metabolism of fatty acid that also slows the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA and prostaglandins. A daily dose of 150-200 milligrams of GLA (corresponding to one teaspoon of hemp oil, or three teaspoons of hemp seed nuts) over a twelve-week period significantly improved PMS-related symptoms in clinical studies. Menopausal symptoms such as dry skin, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and drying of the vaginal and bladder mucous membranes may also be alleviated by dietary EFA supplementation.
Other Therapeutic Benefits A dysfunctional fatty-acid metabolism also seems to contribute to the following diseases. The potential benefits of EFAs and higher omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their treatment require further study.
Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic neurological autoimmune disease, occurs more frequently in the northern industrialized regions of the world, where, incidentally, the diet also includes a disproportionately low ratio of unsaturated fats. Studies have suggested a link between abnormal EFA metabolism and progression of the MS symptoms, possibly due to a defective enzyme system. MS patients may be unable to convert EFAs to the higher PUFAs. Some studies indicate that dietary supplementation with EFAs or GLA will lead to improvements. (Refer to Cannabonid Receptors recorded in research data base on this website).
Diabetes is a chronic endocrine disease. In juveniles, it is usually caused by a lack of the hormone insulin regulates the uptake of blood sugar (glucose) by tissue cells. In adult diabetes, sufficient insulin is produced. Yet, the cells have become resistant to it and don’t take up glucose sufficiently fast after a meal. This insulin resistance may cause unusual thirst, fatigue, muscle cramps, and even death. Studies showed that daily doses of 360 mg GLA alleviate tingling or numbness in the feet, one of diabetes’ symptoms. Insufficient omega-3 intake may be also one of the co-factors for the development of diabetes and a balanced fatty acid supply may alleviate its other effects as well.
Compared to healthy tissue, cancer cells are deficient in delta-6 desaturase, the enzyme needed to convert either EFA to higher omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Several of these higher PUFAs, including GLA, have shown to selectively destroy cancerous cells. Other studies also suggest that higher PUFAs may in fact slow down progression of common cancers, such as breast and prostrate cancer. (All male species have cannabinoid receptors in their testis - refer to research data base on this website.)
Further research on dietary supplementation of EFAs, GLA and other omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs suggests improvements in the treatment of chronic depression, postpartum depression, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenic psychosis, among other afflictions.
This brief list shows that the hempseed nut oil’s fatty-acid spectrum may prevent or assist in curing a number of common diseases when taken as part of the normal diet. Patients suffering seriously from any of the listed illnesses should discuss the therapeutic use of hempseed nuts and other seed oils high in specific PUFAs, with a medical professional.
To purchase a selection of fresh hemp nuts visit: http://www.HempForUS.com/5.htm