Written by: Dr Tom Shurlock for and on behalf of GWF Nutrition Limited.
Copyright GWF Nutrition Limited March 2017 – Not for reproduction.
Earlier articles have concentrated on the role of hemp oil, both as a component of the Oatinol Delivery System and its unique fatty acid profile supplying a beneficial ω-6:ω-3 ratio as well as significant quantities of stearidonic acid (C18:4 ω-3 – SDA) and ϒ-linolenic acid. These characteristics have a significant impact in anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory processes, and possibly diverts us away from many other positive benefits of using hempseed meal as a feed ingredient.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a version of the cannabis plant where levels of delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol THC), the hallucinogenic portion of the plant, has been reduced. Other cannabinoids and phytochemicals are still present, as well as the major nutrients. The seed is dehulled and oil extracted through cold pressing, the resultant product being hempseed meal.
Hempseed protein: The protein level of hempseed meal is relatively high at around 33%, which is comparable to other feedstuffs such as oil extracted rapeseed and linseed, though lower than soya.
Albumin; a globular protein, and edestin; a legumin, are the two main proteins in hempseed, 35% and 65% respectively. They are rich in sulphur amino acids, and especially arginine and glutamic acid. However, they also have bioactive properties in their own right and have been linked to vitamin D metabolism (Hollis et al, 1977). Cholecaciferol links with α-lipoprotein to be transported via the lymph system, but can also link with α-globulin for vascular transport. More recent work has shown that albumins also improve D3 solubility; simplifies its transport; protects it from degradation and increases its bioavailability (Delavari et el, 2015). Not only does this optimise calcium and bone metabolism, through its metabolite 1,25 DHC, but the latest research suggests it helps improve lower limb muscle strength and lean mass in humans (Hassan-Smith, 2017). If this is true across species – and there is no reason to doubt it – it has implications for activity.
Additionally, these proteins are enzymatically broken down in the small intestine, where some amino acid sequences (of between 3 and 5 molecules) have bioactive properties. These include physical parameters (foaming, emulsion, etc. – Yin et al, 2008); physiological factors (water holding capacity and fat absorption capacity); bioactive systems such as anti-oxidation (The et al. 2016); other antihypertensive pathways (Chibuike et al. 2014) and anti-inflammatory factors (Gu & Wu. 2016).
When compared to other protein sources (soya and whey proteins, as % of total protein) there are some obvious differences in the amino acid profiles. Both soya and whey are regarded as being close to an ideal protein (though only for humans), and hemp protein bears a close similarity to that of soya. Although slightly lower in the first limiting amino acid, lysine, and higher in the second limiting, methionine, hemp has a substantially higher arginine content, and this is particularly important.
Like soya, hemp has a relatively high proportion of branched chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine, and these are implicated in generating energy in skeletal muscle, as well as increasing protein synthesis (Brestensky et al, 2015: Ohtani et al, 2006). This is further promoted by arginine which initiates the process (ShanMao & Yong, 2014); aids microvascular development (Zhan et al, 2008) and the high levels in hempseed meal are one of the reasons it is regarded as a health food for athletes. Hemp is also a good source of glutamic acid which energises the gut lining cells and helps promote more arginine biosynthesis.
Figure 1: Graphical representation of protein amino acid profiles for soya bean hempseed (cv Finola) and egg white, Individual amino acids are represented by their IUPAC abbreviation.
Hempseed meal protein, therefore, has a number of bioactive components beyond its nutrient profile. As well as providing quality protein, unlikely to be limiting, the relatively high sulphur, branched chain and pro-energic amino acids all indicate a positive support of hoof, hair and activity. The combination of albumin and α-globulin enable Vitamin D absorption and transport, both in the bloodstream and lymph system, again promoting muscle integrity, and other fat soluble vitamin uptake has been implicated (Reboul and Borel, 2011). Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood pressure modulation are also cited.
Hempseed Fibre: There is little definitive data on the composition of hempseed meal fibre. It has a dietary fibre level of 50%, which is divided into 10% soluble fibre, 10% hemicelluloses, 20% cellulose and 10% lignified material. As such it provides a slow source of energy release, generating volatile fatty acids. Butyate generation maintains the integrity of gut lining cells and helps combat endotoxin absorption in the hindgut. The soluble faction is based on galactans (Gorshkova & Morvan , 2006) which have prebiotic effect and aid the viability of fibre fermenting microbes. As such it helps improve fibre digestibility in herbivores, but also provides a platform for hindgut health and stasis in companion animals – cats, dogs – as well as production animals such as pigs (Cardarelli e al, 2016). One of the manifestations is an improvement in faecal characteristics. Additionally, galactan polysaccharides – galactomannans, arabinogalactans have been shown to support immunomodulatory function including lymphocyte proliferation and antibody production (Ramberg et al. 2010).
Hempseed Phytobiotics: Whilst hallucinogenic phytobiotics have been bred out of the industrial hemp, there still remains a wide spectrum of bioactives. Within the oil, there are significant amounts of polyphenols, especially flavonoids such as flavanones, flavanols, flavonols and isoflavones, and vitamin E in the form of ϒ-tocopherol (Smeriglio, 2016). This imparts high levels of antioxidative capacity, not only to the oil faction but also subsequently where absorbed nutrients support the antioxidative capability of the body.
Cannabinoids, the non-hallucinogenic faction of hemp, has been reported as having anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory functions, as well as a hypertensive effect on the cardiovascular system (Kopcyliska, 2011).
Hempseed Meal is the derivative of whole hempseeds after cold pressing to obtain hemp oil. Its nutrient profile makes it an excellent dietary inclusion across a range of species. It supplies high levels of the essential amino acids in ratios similar to those of an ideal protein, and also supplies branched chain amino acids – particularly important in supporting skeletal muscle activity, – and the non-essential but functional amino acids arginine and glutamine. The greatest utiliser of protein is the gastro-intestinal tract. As food passes along its length, it wears down the absorptive surfaces and regeneration is supported by those amino acids. Hemp, therefore, can support both structural and functional muscle types and can be regarded as an ideal protein source. Additionally, it has bioactive peptide potential. Having a role across a range of characteristics. Coupled with its role in antioxidation, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory function and possible prebiotic activity, hempseed meal is a powerful tool in gut health and nutrition, and this is in addition to the benefits of the hemp oil.
Brestenský M, Nitrayová S, Patráš P, Heger J, Nitray J. BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE IN NUTRITION. jmbfs.2015.5.2.197-202
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< Back to Knowledge Base Next Article > Written by: Dr Tom Shurlock for and on behalf of GWF Nutrition Limited. Copyright GWF Nutrition Limited March 2017 – Not for reproduction. Earlier articles have concentrated on the role of hemp oil, both as a component of the Oatinol Delivery System and its unique fatty aci
6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
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Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety.
However, they contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits (1).
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, whose calories are 16–18% protein.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc (1, 2 ).
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide ( 3 ).
Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease.
The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body ( 4 ).
Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease ( 5 ).
In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease ( 6 , 7 ).
The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease ( 8 , 9 ).
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack ( 10 , 11 , 12 ).
Summary Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Fatty acids may affect immune responses in your body ( 13 , 14 , 15 ).
Studies suggest that your immune system depends on the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. They have about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered in the optimal range.
Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids.
The oil may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication ( 16 , 17 ).
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases and provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms.
About 25% of calories in hemp seeds come from protein, which is relatively high.
In fact, by weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb — 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein (1).
They are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids and must obtain them from your diet.
Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoa is another example of a complete, plant-based protein source.
Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid (18).
The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good — better than protein from many grains, nuts and legumes ( 19 ).
Summary About 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. What’s more, they contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.
Up to 80% of women of reproductive age may suffer from physical or emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) ( 20 ).
These symptoms are very likely caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin ( 21 ).
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in hemp seeds, produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin ( 22 , 23 , 24 ).
In a study in women with PMS, taking 1 gram of essential fatty acids — including 210 mg of GLA — per day resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms ( 22 ).
Other studies have shown that primrose oil, which is rich in GLA as well, may be highly effective in reducing symptoms for women who have failed other PMS therapies.
It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS ( 25 ).
Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms of menopause, too.
The exact process is unknown, but the GLA in hemp seeds may regulate the hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause ( 26 , 27 , 28 ).
Summary Hemp seeds may reduce symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, thanks to its high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
This is a detailed article about hemp seeds and their health benefits. Here are 6 ways that consuming hemp seeds can improve your health.