Seeds and hemp oil arrived on the market for natural products in Canada, following the adoption in 1998 of the Regulations on industrial hemp. Although marijuana and hemp called «industrial» come from the same plant (Cannabis Sativa), the varieties used are very different in terms of their THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of marijuana). Thus, THC is strictly regulated and audited by Health Canada in the case of varieties used for industrial purposes (paper, textiles, building materials, etc…) or food. This article relates only to the food use of seeds and hemp oil.
The main interest of hemp seed and oil which draws is their balanced omega- 3 essential fatty acids and omega -6, a unique phenomenon in foods.
A versatile and ecological plant:
The cultivation of industrial hemp for its strong fibers offer an enormous potential : all kinds of paper (printing, newspapers , packaging, etc… ) , Various textiles, miscellaneous construction materials ( insulation , chipboard , bricks , furniture, mortar, etc. . ) . One can also make ethanol, cables, carpets, car parts, litter for animals, etc. . . .
Another advantage, hemp and its transformation are less damaging to the environment than producing paper from trees and the textile from cotton. Its yield per acre is fiber 4 times higher than that of the timber and its conversion into paper is less polluting. Its culture is also much less demanding than that of cotton pesticides. The oil which derives seeds is very popular in the field of natural cosmetics, because it would be a very good moisturizing and penetrating.
In 1937, as part of a concerted fight against the illegal use of drugs, hemp was made illegal in the United States (Marijuana Tax Act). Canada did the same in 1938 (Law on opium and narcotics).
Curiously, we know little about food uses of hemp. Some sources mention that in fed poultry and followers of Shinto in Japan consumed as well as the people of Eastern Europe who were goats and ‘butter’. This is probably the difficulty of isolating hemp seeds which limited their consumption.
Poor THC hemp:
Today, the culture of low THC hemp is permitted in many countries, including Canada adopted in 1998, the Industrial Hemp Regulations (in France, it is referred to “agricultural hemp”). Production, distribution, processing, export and import are regulated by Health Canada. They require obtaining an annual license and compliance with various regulations, the most important is, of course, one that limits the THC content of the plant. The maximum content is limited to 0.3 % of the weight of the sheets and 10 parts per million (ppm) in the case of oil and flour produced from the seeds.
Food products made from hemp are so low in THC they cannot cause positive tests if urine sample, a current practice in some Americans employers.
About Hemp seeds and hemp oil:
It is their content of essential fatty acids which makes hempseed particularly interesting. Indeed, the vast majority of oils and foods consumed in Western countries provide too much omega -6 (linoleic acid) and too little omega -3 fatty acids (ALA alpha -linoleic acid). This imbalance – about 10 to 30 omega 6 for 1 omega -3 – causes cardiovascular conditions and inflammatory disorders. However, in the hemp seed , the omega-6/omega-3 ratio is 2/ 1 to 3 /1 and corresponds to ideal proportions to human health set to 1/ 1 to 4 /1 ( see our fact sheet Omega- 3 and omega -6).
Fatty acid composition of seed oil hemp:
- Saturated fatty acids: 3-7 %
- Mono- unsaturated acids ( omega -9 ): 5-9 %
- (Omega -3 and omega-6) polyunsaturated acids: 75-85 %
- Omega-3: approximately 24%
- Omega-6: About 60%
The fact that this oil also contains up to 4% gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) adds to its interest, because some people are not able to synthesize this substance from omega -6 and therefore need a direct source. Borage oil (20 % GLA) and evening primrose oil (10 % GLA) are the best known sources of GLA, but they are available as supplements.
Protein hemp seeds are good compared to those of other grains. They contain significant amounts of sulfur amino acids (methionine and cysteine) and arginine, an amino acid that appears to play an important role in cardiovascular health. Secondly, the proteins of the hemp seed are better digested because they do not contain the inhibitor of trypsin (Trypsin is an enzyme which digests protein).
Nutritional composition of shelled hemp seeds (25 g):
- Kilocalories: 125
- Proteins: 8.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Fiber: 1.8 g
- Fat: 11 g
Seeds unshelled hemp are edible, but they are very crisp . Manufacturers add them, after grilling, products in which the texture is desired. Seeds can be incorporated in all kinds of recipes (salad dressings, dips, sauces, muffins, etc.). .
- Heart Health: Because of the interesting omega -3 seeds and hemp oil, we are interested in their potential preventive effect on cardiovasculaires diseases.
- Eczema: The particular lipid profile hemp oil has raised the interest of researchers in the field of treatment of eczema.
- Hemp seeds have naturally occurring GLA, Stearidonic acid & vitamin E, which gives it the ideal raw material ingredients for human production of DHA and EPA, rendering the need for fish oils unnecessary.
- A high source of chlorophyll, vitamin B1, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, phyto-sterols, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus and lignin.
- Super food: low in calories, potent in nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
The hemp seed oil is ideal for salad dressings or to flavor a dish after cooking. Due to its content of fragile omega -3 fatty acids, it is not suitable for cooking.
Written and Translated by Teddy Nseir