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Hemp Seed Oil

By Nadia McMorran

It appears that hemp was one of the first plants ever cultivated and was used by the Chinese thousands of years ago.

Hemp is a fast growing plant that has become a very popular product around the world due to its low environmental impact and its diverse range of uses, such as clothing, paper, body care products, paint, biofuels, animal feed and biodegradable plastics.

Hemp is derived from a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, however produces little to no THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) and has been legal to grow in New Zealand since 2002.

Hemp seeds (when hulled are sometimes referred to as hemp hearts) are high in protein, vitamin E, folate, niacin, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium and iron.

The seeds are cold pressed to create hemp seed oil, an incredible oil that is high in essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6 and 9). It contains 20% omega 3, and is the most balanced natural source of omegas providing a 3:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, which is the ideal ratio for the human body. Hemp seed oil also contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a highly anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid in a concentration of up to 5%, which is a higher concentration than any other plant oil.

How plant based oils differ to fish oil

Plant based oils, specifically hemp seed oil, are generally very stable oils that are very unlikely to oxidise or go rancid as fish oil can, and far more sustainable and environmentally friendly to produce than fish oil. Hemp seed oil contains the most well balanced omega ratios of any naturally produced oil, which are ideal for the human body.

Fish oil has the added benefit of being much higher in omega 3, which although is much higher than the human body typically needs, it is the best way to balance out the additional omega 6’s that are usually found in the standard diet of a New Zealander.

Both hemp seed oil and fish oil contain vitamins and minerals and help to reduce free radicals in the body due
to the antioxidant properties of
omega 3’s.

Fish oil contains long chain omega 3’s
as fish obtain their omega 3’s from eating algae and other marine life. Because it has already been processed in their digestive system, it becomes easier
for us to absorb than plant based omega 3’s.

Plant based oils only contain short chain omega 3’s, so our digestive system has to convert it. Even though our body easily manages this conversion it does produce less, meaning you may require a larger amount of a plant based oil to achieve a similar result to that of a fish oil.

There are benefits to both oils depending on lifestyle, dietary requirements and health needs.