What's the high around hemp?

This week we were incredibly lucky to sit down (virtually) with Dietitian and Nutritionist Emily Hardman (@emilyhardmandietitian) from Sydney to discuss the health and nutritional benefits of hemp.

To get the ball rolling, we asked Emily the question on everybody’s lips. Is hemp as good as everyone says it is?
Much of the hype around hemp comes from its very impressive nutrient profile. The nutrients will depend on the way it is consumed – as a seed, oil or powder.
Typically, hemp will provide a rich source of protein, essential fatty acids, and micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin E and B group vitamins.

I’d definitely say that hemp is the new star of seeds!

Does hemp have any benefits other superfoods such as chia or flax don’t have? Is one better than the other?
There are many claimed benefits of hemp however due to limited research, many of these are yet to be proven. In saying that, with an impressive nutrient profile, including them as a part of a healthy diet is likely to improve your overall diet quality.

Hemp seeds are a rich source of protein, containing around 25% protein. This is comparable to other seeds such as chia seeds and flaxseeds. Hemp seeds stand out as a high-quality plant-based protein, containing all of the nine essential amino acids. Incorporating hemp seeds into a varied plant-based diet may better allow vegans and vegetarians to meet their protein requirements.

Hemp seeds contain nearly 50% total fat, which is much higher in comparison chia seeds at 30% and flaxseeds at 42%. They are exceptionally high in two essential fatty acids – omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)) and omega 6 (linoleic acid (LA)). These types of fats may help to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and protect against heart disease.

The array of nutrients provided by hemp seeds makes them shine above other nuts and seeds. Hemp seeds provide a source of fibre, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin E and B group vitamins. They are also free from gluten, dairy and soy, making it a great alternative for those with allergies or intolerances.

Hemp oil is cold-pressed from hemp seeds, leaving behind 100% fat. This is mainly the essential fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6. The slightly green colour of hemp oil comes from the high content of chlorophyll. This makes it very sensitive to light and heat, and it should be stored in a dark bottle away from direct sunlight.

Why is receiving the perfect 1:3 balance of omega 3 and 6 so important and what happens if we don’t consume this ideal ratio?
Essential fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6 must be obtained from the diet and are key to maintaining good health and normal body functions. Omega 3 fats have been shown to improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, support mental health and reduce inflammation in the body. Omega 6 fats play an important role in maintaining the immune system and lowering cholesterol levels.

If the balance of omega 3 and omega 6 in the diet isn’t right, then this can impair the function of these essential fatty acids in the body. The modern Western diet has evolved to become very high in omega 6 fats, with an estimated omega 3 to omega 6 ratio of 1:12. High intakes of omega 6 fats compared to omega 3 are associated with an increased risk of inflammation and chronic disease.

To maintain good health, the ideal balance of omega 3 to omega 6 is a ratio of 1:3. Hemp seeds contain a wonderful source of both omega 3 and omega 6, in the perfect ratio of around 1:3.

What is GLA and what benefits does it have?
Gamma Linolenic Acid or GLA is a type of omega 6 fatty acid found in a very small number of plant seed oils. Hemp seeds and hemp oil are some of the only food sources of GLA!

The benefits of GLA are not yet completely understood, as research is limited. However, it may be effective in reducing inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, slowing the progress of diabetic neuropathy and protecting against heart disease. Further research is needed to confirm these benefits.

How do you like to use your hemp? What are some of your favourite recipes? There are so many ways to use hemp – which is why I love it!

Hemp seeds would have to be my favourite smoothie bowl topper. They have a delicious and pleasant nutty flavour. I sprinkle hemp seeds on my smoothie bowl with some crunchy muesli and fresh fruit.

Coming into the warmer months, I can’t go past a delicious salad. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of hemp oil, tahini and lemon juice. It goes with everything!


We would like to extend a big thank you to Emily for taking the time to sit down and discuss the "high" around hemp. 

A little bit about Emily
Emily is a highly motivated and enthusiastic Accredited Practising Dietitian with a lifelong passion for health, nutrition and food. She is the owner of a private practice nutrition consulting business with clinics on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and also offers consultations online. Emily consults one on one with clients to support them in building a positive relationship with food and to assist them in reaching their goals.

Emily works with adults, children and families in all areas of health and nutrition. She has special interests in chronic disease management, eating disorders, gastrointestinal health and sports nutrition. Emily offers adaptable and easy to follow advice tailored to her clients to support them in achieving optimal health. She provides clients with the knowledge and skills to allow them to establish their health intentions and make long-term positive health and lifestyle changes.

With a passion for food and cooking, Emily enjoys developing and sharing simple and healthy recipes. Her aim is to inspire and empower others to make positive nutrition and lifestyle choices.