Hempseed oil has a lot of potential
Hempseed oil can be a heart-healthy part of a nutritious breakfast or any other meal for that matter. Researchers in the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Seville in Seville, Spain have found that hempseed oil has an exceptional ratio of omega-6 and -3 fatty acids as well as a few plant chemicals that can lower high blood pressure. The research team studied the composition of the oil from cannabis sativa or industrial hemp.
Grant Pierce, executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, told the press that while he was not directly involved with this study thought that it “gives new information on the bioactive compounds found in hempseed that may potentially lower blood cholesterol levels and have an anti-atherogenic action.”
For those unfamiliar with the plant Maria Angeles Fernández-Arche, a pharmacology researcher at the University of Seville elaborated: “C. sativa L., an annual herbaceous plant, is known by its long, thin flowers and spiky leaves. The plant is considered to be native of western and central Asia and has also been cultivated commercially in Europe and in parts of China, Japan, Canada, and the United States.”
The plant has a long history of being used in the manufacturing cloth and paper. It has also been used as both food and folk medicine according to such sources as the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It contains significant levels of such vitamins as A, C and E, as well as minerals and fiber. The team, however, chose to focus on hempseed oil in order to establish its full potential for food and modern medicine.
Their research reveals that 75 percent of hempseed oil is polyunsaturated fatty acids. The remainder is split up between saturated fats and monounsaturated fatty acids. Fernández-Arche noted that “(h)empseed oil has a very interesting polyunsaturated fatty acid composition because it has an optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of about 3 to 1.”
Their study also indicates hempseed oil could “have favorable nutritional implications and beneficial physiological effects on the prevention of coronary heart disease and cancer.” Previous research indicated that a significant ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fats is directly related to lower cholesterol levels. Therefore the amounts discovered in hempseed oil could potentially aid in the prevention of heart disease.
Plant chemicals such as campesterol and beta-sitosterol were also found in the hempseed oil. These can be used to reduce bad cholesterol, inflammation and the risk of heart attack. While additional research with human subjects would be required in order to prove the clinical benefits of hempseed oil Fernández-Arche stated that they are researching “the effect of the intake of this oil and this effect on the stress induced in animals, and the preliminary results are very promising.”
Pierce added hempseed oil “has several potentially important bioactive compounds that could have beneficial cardiovascular effects. It is a very heart healthy seed and oil.” While he conceded that it doesn’t contain as much oleic acid as other heart-healthy oils like canola or olive oil, research with animals indicates hempseed could reduce the clotting of blood platelets that causes heart attacks. He too agreed that while research with human subjects is necessary hempseed oil does have a lot of untapped potential.
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