Pharmacology researchers at the University of Seville recently reported their results after analyzing oil from Cannabis sativa (industrial hemp), which contains such low levels of THC, you can’t get a high.
There are some fats that our body needs but cannot produce on its own, so we have to get it through certain foods. These are essential fatty acids (EFAs). Hemp seed oil is made up of about 75% polyunsaturated fatty acids. This includes a perfect 3:1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3, which are EFAs usually acquired through certain meats, flax and fish oil. This ratio makes it a potential source for great heart health when integrated into a healthy diet.
According to the researchers, alpha linolenic acid (an omega-3 found in the oil), “may have favorable nutritional implications and beneficial physiological effects on the prevention of coronary heart disease and cancer.”
12% of the oil is made up of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. “A high ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fats has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis, so the proportions seen in hemp oil have the potential to help prevent heart disease,” the researches wrote.
Other plant chemicals found in the oil are known to decrease the risks of a heart attack, lower LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation and hinder the advancement of atherosclerosis.
Hemp seed also contains high amounts of minerals, fibers and vitamins A, C and E.
“This is an interesting study that gives new information on the bioactive compounds found in hempseed that may potentially lower blood cholesterol levels and have an anti-atherogenic action,” wrote Grant Pierce, executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital (he was not involved in the study).
Although clinical human trials are needed to prove these benefits, “the effect of the intake of this oil and this effect on the stress induced in animals, and the preliminary results are very promising,” said Maria Angeles Fernández-Arche, a researcher at the University of Seville.
Read their findings in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.