Gleaned from the seeds of the hemp plant, hemp oil is a type of vegetable oil that you can use for cooking and preparing foods. It is a non-drug form of the hemp plant, unlike marijuana, which is also from the hemp plant. The oil is low in saturated fat and supplies certain nutrients. It also may have health benefits, making it worth adding to your healthy eating plan.
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One tablespoon of hemp oil contains 14 grams of fat, of which only 1 gram is saturated. This low saturated fat content is a primary benefit of using hemp oil in place of animal fats such as lard and butter. Keeping your consumption of saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your total caloric intake is one way to cut your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, notes the American Heart Association. Hemp oil also contains fatty acids that can help reduce your risk of heart disease, according to a 2014 article published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry."
Nutrients in Hemp Oil
Hemp oil contains all of the essential amino acids, according to a 2000 article published in the "Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional and Medicinal Foods." Essential amino acids help maintain the proteins in your body, which can prevent muscle loss. Hemp oil delivers small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, folate and vitamins B-6 and E.
Potential Health Benefits
The fatty acids in hemp oil offer certain health benefits. For example, the oil contains sitosterol, which can help lower cholesterol. It also contains tocopherols, which have antioxidant properties to help prevent your cells from damage, and anticancer agents, according to the "Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional and Medicinal Foods." Hemp oil also contains a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids, which can help lower your risk of cancer, inflammation and blood clots, the "Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional and Medicinal Foods" reports. Fatty acids also promote normal brain function.
Hemp Oil in Your Diet
The oil has a nutty flavor that will enhance many recipes. Use it in most foods or recipes that you would normally use olive oil for. However, hemp oil loses quality and flavor if it's heated to temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's not appropriate for frying foods, notes the book "Hemp: Industrial Production and Uses." Use hemp oil to sauté vegetables or to make homemade salad dressings. Look for hemp oil at health food stores, and some large supermarkets also might carry hemp oil.