Kelly C. Fitzpatrick
Health professionals generally agree that poor nutrition plays an important role in diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer
Health professionals generally agree that poor nutrition plays an important role in diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Luckily, there are many nutritional products that have shown promise in disease reduction, one of the most interesting being essential fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering blood cholesterol and blood pressure and reducing blood platelet coagulation (clotting). Research with EFA supplements has also shown promise in a number of areas including cancer, high blood pressure, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, inflammation, diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
One EFA-rich oil that is getting more attention of late is hemp seed oil, which contains the highest level of good unsaturated fatty acids (over 90 per cent) of any vegetable oil. In addition, approximately 80 per cent of hemp oil is comprised of linoleic acid (LA, an "omega-6" EFA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, an "omega-3" EFA). These essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet.
Hemp seed oil is also a unique plant source of a rare omega-6 EFA called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Modern-day diets and sluggish enzyme activities often impair the synthesis of GLA in the body, which may cause GLA deficiency.
Leading experts such as the Scientific Review Committee of Health Canada and the World Health Organization have recommended that the ratio of intake of omega-6 to omega-3 should range from 4:1 to 10:1. With its 3:1 ratio, hemp seed oil is the closest naturally occurring oil to this range. Just one or two tablespoons per day provides the seven to 11 grams of LA and two to 3.5 g of ALA that the body needs for optimal cell function making hemp seed oil truly one of nature's favourites for human nutrition!
Fatty Acid Profile of Plant Oils