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 Hemp: Nature's Forgotten Nutraceutical: Hemp: Nature's Forgotten Nutraceutical - As Seen in Natural Pharmacy Magazine 
 
Dr. Darrell Tanelian L. MD, PhD ©

Conveniently, hemp seed oil is also one of the only food oils to contain the direct metabolites of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid--gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA), respectively. Because of this, it can circumvent the impaired EFA metabolism and physical compromise that can result from genetic factors, intake of other fats, aging, and lifestyle patterns.

By contrast with unsaturated fat, only 6.6% of the total calories in shelled hemp seed come from saturated fat--a percentage that contrasts sharply with the 13 to 14% of saturated fat calories in the modern American diet.6 This gives hemp seed oil a polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio of 9.7, in comparison to the current ratio of 0.44 in the American diet,6 and indicates that consuming even a small portion of hemp seed oil daily can contribute strongly to bringing this dietary imbalance back toward the U.S. Senate Select Committee recommended goal of 1.0.

Hemp Protein
Besides providing the human EFAs and having a favorable unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, hemp seed is an excellent dietary source of easily digestible, gluten-free protein. Its overall protein content of 34.6 g/100 g is comparable to that of soy beans and better than that found in nuts, other seeds, dairy products, meat, fish, or poultry.

Hemp protein provides a well-balanced array of the 10 essential amino acids for humans. An important aspect of hemp seed protein is a high content of arginine (123 mg/g protein) and histidine (27 mg/g protein), both of which are important for growth during childhood, and of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine (23 mg/g protein) and cysteine (16 mg/g protein), which are needed for proper enzyme formation. Hemp protein also contains relatively high levels of the branched-chain amino acids that are important for the metabolism of exercising muscle.

Other Hemp Nutrients
The carbohydrate content of shelled hemp seed is 11.5% and its sugar content is 2%. Of the shelled hemp seed carbohydrate, 6% is in the form of fiber. The fiber content of hemp seed flour is 40%, which is the highest of all commercial flour grains. In addition to containing the basic human nutrient groups, hemp foods have a high content of antioxidants (92.1 mg/100g) in the form of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol. Additionally, hemp seed contains a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals.

Hemp in Health and Disease Prevention
The high content of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and the relatively high phytosterol content of hemp foods, make them beneficial to cardiovascular health.7 Numerous human and animal studies have shown that substitution of polyunsaturated for saturated fats can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest 8 and fatal cardiac arrhythmia,9 as well as reducing blood cholesterol levels and decreasing the cellular proliferation associated with atherosclerosis.10 A high polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, especially when it includes linoleic acid, has also been positively associated with reduced arterial thrombosis.11 Additionally, phytosterols, of which hemp seed contains 438 mg/100g, have been shown to reduce total serum cholesterol by an average of 10% and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by an average of 13%.12

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