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What is the Deal With: Hemp Seeds

I write almost weekly about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Well, after a bit more research I found another non-fish source for my beloved healthy fat: hemp seeds.

I have been seeing hemp products around for the last decade and thought they were simply part of the "legalize marijuana campaign," but I was mistaken. Hemp, used for the manufacturing of rope in Elizabethan England, is part of the cannibas family of plants, but contains only a trace amount of the THC (the "active ingredient" if you will of "pot" that makes you high). So while it is related to "pot" it has a different make up and is considered by some to be a super food.

What hemp does contain is a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are both important for healthy circulation, cell growth and the immune system. While western diets are generally high in omega-6s they lack sources of omega-3s, so hemp seeds provide another source of this essential fatty acid. Hemp seeds also contain small amounts of magnesium and zinc that can boost energy levels and regulate hormone balance. Hemp seeds also have a high protein content.

You can eat just the seeds - it is said that you can snack on toasted hemp seeds at the cinema in China. However, it is most commonly found as oil that has a sweet taste reminiscent of pine nuts. Folks generally use it as they would flax seed oil - spread on toast, in salad dressing, or added to smoothies. People who eat hemp oil regularly claim it has an amazing impact on their skin by making it feel naturally moisturized from the inside out.

Hemp seed oil has really taken off in the UK, and I suspect it will become easier to find state side soon since even our most reputable alternative therapies doctor, Andrew Weil, is a fan of the oil.

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