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Hemp oil – green gold for health?

Linseed oil, walnut oil or avocado oil – the selection of edible oils has long since gone beyond the classics such as sunflower or olive oil. Hemp oil is one of the healthiest vegetable cooking oils and is more popular than ever for good reason. But what makes hemp oil so unique and valuable? Is it rightly receiving more and more attention? We take a look behind the scenes.

The multi-talent hemp

Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, is an edible oil obtained from the seeds of the commercial hemp plant. The varieties approved as commercial hemp in Germany are controlled by the

strictly regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (BLE): only varieties containing a maximum of 0.2% THC (THC is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant) may be cultivated. The BLE undertakes random checks, especially during the flowering period of the hemp plants. There are currently around 40 different varieties of commercial hemp approved in the EU.

Industrial hemp is used very successfully as a sustainable raw material in a wide variety of areas: as a building material, for paper production, in the manufacture of clothing and, last but not least, in the food industry. Here in particular, the useful hemp plant is experiencing an ever-growing attention. Hemp seeds and hemp protein are increasingly found in muesli bars, in shakes or in teas. The product range of hemp-containing foods is continuously expanding.

In the course of the production of hemp edible oil, the so-called hemp seed cake is produced as a by-product. This is highly protein-rich and is the main source of hemp protein. The proteins from hemp seeds are among the highest quality and best utilizable by the human body plant proteins.

Hemp oil: Gentle production is the be-all and end-all

The production of a high-quality hemp oil begins after the harvest with a gentle drying of the hemp seeds, ideally at low temperature for several months. The chlorophyll contained in the seeds as well as the β-carotene finally give the oil its greenish golden color.

Hemp seed oil is produced by cold pressing and is thus an unrefined edible oil. Thanks to this very gentle processing, the healthy ingredients of the oil are preserved, which is why cold-pressed oils are also called virgin, i.e. natural. It is important to know that cold-pressed edible oils must not be heated strongly and, in contrast to refined oils, have a shorter shelf life. Refined oils are produced less gently in comparison, as the oils are strongly heated during extraction. This gives them a longer shelf life, but they lose a large part of their valuable ingredients. They are suitable for frying, as no trans fats or trans fatty acids, which are controversial from a health point of view, are produced here.

Energy supplier hemp oil

Our body benefits in many ways from the high content of valuable nutrients and trace elements contained in hemp oil.

First and foremost are essential fatty acids, such as unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp oil is excellent for meeting daily needs, as it is particularly rich in α-linolenic acid and stearidonic acid (omega-3 fatty acids), as well as the rare γ-linolenic acid (omega-6 fatty acid).

In addition, hemp oil contains a high concentration of important minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium, as well as a large amount of vitamins, such as B1, B2 and E and also contains β-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.

Hemp oil is therefore an important natural product that provides our body with new energy and has a positive overall effect on our cardiovascular system.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids: the right balance makes the difference

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, cannot be produced by the body itself and must therefore be ingested through food. Of the omega-3 fatty acid family, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and α-linolenic acid are particularly important for humans. The latter, in particular, must be ingested through food. The other two fatty acids can be produced from it in the body. In addition to α-linolenic acid, linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) is essential, i.e. necessary for life.

As part of a balanced diet, attention must be paid to the correct ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. The German Nutrition Society recommends a ratio of about 5:1.

In hemp oil, these fatty acids are present in a particularly optimal ratio due to the high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids. A similarly balanced ratio can also be found in fish. Especially in the context of a vegan or vegetarian diet, hemp oil is therefore an ideal supplement for a balanced nutrient intake.

Tips for use in the kitchen

The taste of hemp oil can be described as fruity-nutty. It is therefore very suitable for a wide variety of cold dishes: from salads and dressings, to smoothies and muesli. Anyone looking for a tasty and high-quality alternative to olive oil can give free rein to creative cooking here.

Dr. Dorothea Kindermann
Molecular biologist
Quality Manager at Drapalin Pharmaceuticals GmbH

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