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Hemp: The Alpha of Omega

We’re always hearing about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet, and rightly so! Omega-3s are nutrients that are vital to our:

  • Metabolism
  • immune system
  • brain health
  • eye health
  • heart health
  • joint health
  • lung health

just to name the top few things!

As mammals, we are unable to produce this important compound ourselves, and must obtain it all through our diet. However, today’s common diet of fast/processed foods and reliance on vegetable oils – all low in critical nutrients like Omega-3  – means most of us could use some extra help getting the nutrition we need.

According to the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, our bodies are required to maintain a Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of anywhere between 1:1 and 4:1, but the average North American diet gives us 14-25 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3, which can lead to a laundry list of health problems (heart disease, inflammation, metabolic disfunction, etc.).

Doctors and health professionals have traditionally recommended fish oil supplement capsules to help us get enough of this essential fatty acid – but is this really what’s best for our bodies?

Hemp vs Fish: The Ultimate Smackdown

As Cyndal, CEO of HempE, sat pregnant in the medical clinic 2 years ago her doctor cautioned her, “Be careful how much fish you eat; we are concerned about the mercury levels in the ocean. Don’t eat fish more than twice per week.” She was alarmed to find that the research agrees; our oceans and fresh water have been saturated with toxins like mercury, PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyl) and dioxins that get stored in the liver and fat cells of marine life. Labdoor, an independent supplement research company, did a study on 54 of the bestselling fish oil supplement capsules on the market, and the results are more than a little fishy. Every product contained measurable amounts of mercury, with 3 products recording 50% or greater of the allowable mercury content/serving. Additionally, every supplement contained measurable amounts of mercury, with the category averaging 2.4 PPB (part per billion) of mercury. For the non-biochemists out there, that’s too much mercury.

When the fish are caught, they are brought to a factory to be sectioned, steamed and pressed to produce the fish oil. This steaming process can pose serious health risks, as all omega oils have a very low heat tolerance. You know that smell of day old fish in the trashcan? That is the smell of the fish and all its polyunsaturated goodness oxidizing (aka going rancid). In that same study by Labdoor mentioned above, it was found that all products recorded measurable levels of oxidization, with 14 out of the 54 supplements tested measuring at or above the upper limit of 10 meq/kg. This is a disturbing fact- think of all those nasty ‘fish burps’ those supplements can cause. Gross!

In our books, the idea of consuming rancid fish product for health purposes just doesn’t pass the taste (or smell) test.

Perhaps the most serious effects produced by fish oil supplements are those of an environmental nature. Fish do not produce the Omega fatty acids themselves, but like us, obtain it from their diet, which consists of algae and other plants. By the time the fish is caught it has already digested much of the fatty acid leaving us with an incomplete Omega-3 profile (more on that here). We could easily just harvest the algae, but still we insist on having fleets of colossal fishing tankers (that also, by the way, destroy other marine life by dragging nets across the ocean floor). These methods devastate entire ecosystems, and are so indiscriminate that many of the fish caught are unwanted. Sadly, they are just discarded back into the ocean, dead. Let’s do better for our planet!

So, what’s a mammal to do for their omega-3s? Have no fear, hemp is here!

Hemp is a superfood that offers the richest and most balanced natural source of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) and it naturally provides us with a 3:1 Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio (well within the perfect ratio). Just one tablespoon of hemp oil contains all the omega-3 & omega-6 you need in a day, and exhibits the highest phenolic content and antioxidant activity when compared to other plant based oils. It also has naturally occurring properties that are anticarcinogenic, relieve systemic inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, autoimmune conditions, psychiatric/mental health disorders, promotes eye and brain health, etc. Additionally, because hemp seed oil is plant-based, it can be cold pressed, packaged and stored appropriately so it does not oxidize and spoil as easily. Also, since it hasn’t been partially digested by a fish, it provides the complete nutritional profile of Omega-3.

Long story short: hemp provides your body with a whole host of amazing nutritional benefits you’re likely missing in your diet, and can go a long way toward optimizing your health!

Hemp is also an incredibly sustainable, and earth conscious alternative to the destructive commercial fishing industry. It is easily grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides, and removes a larger amount of carbon dioxide per acre than most plant life. It has thousands of commercial applications including paper, textiles, clothing, 100% biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, animal feed and even concrete! It requires no overfishing or ecosystem destruction, it is 100% recyclable and non-toxic. The possibilities are endless!

When it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids, hemp is the reigning champion. Whether it’s about your health or environmental impact, fish oil supplements just don’t measure up.

So, ditch the fish burps and discover all the benefits of hemp for yourself!

To learn more, you can head to the HempE website or contact Cyndal directly at info@hempe.ca.

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Breaking Down the Hemp Crop ~ Part 2 ~ Hurd

Hemp Stalk

Have you hurd the news? Hemp crops yield abundant eco-friendly uses and heal the Earth during the growth cycle.

At the core of the hemp stalk is the hurd, a wood like material also referred to as shives.  It is surrounded by the hemp fibre or bast which you might have read about in our last blog post.

Hurd History

The uses of this part of the crop are astonishing.  From construction materials to paper products, the benefits are just starting to be enjoyed once again in the North American market.

While its roots go back milleniums, due to different laws and regulations, not all countries have been able to enjoy this resilient, eco-friendly raw material at liberty in the last century.

Luckily, with public awareness and evolving regulations surrounding hemp, it is only a matter of time before production gears up and positive impacts are realized yet again.

Saving Forests

Since hemp can be used to make paper, it relieves stress on forests as an alternative to clear cutting trees for consumer products. The cellulose rich centre of the crop combined with the strong hemp fibres create a long lasting, chemical free option in the paper industry.

Sustainable Building

Hempcrete is a wonderful option as a carbon neutral construction material.  When hemp hurd is mixed with water and lime, great things happen.  Canadian company Just BioFiber highlights details on the carbon sequestration features of their building block in this article.    

Making the Most of our Miracle Crop

The hemp stalk, made up of hurd and fibre, is already being commercialized in Canada, however we are nowhere near full capacity.  Entrepreneurs are coming together with innovative solutions, and amazing products are being created.

HempE founder, Cyndal Johnston, visited with Dan Madlung of BioComposites Group in Alberta who shed a little light on the end products derived from the hemp stalk.

Biomass Fuels

As if the above mentioned uses weren’t enough, the stalk can also be converted into hemp biomass as a fuel source.  In fact, Henry Ford reaped the reward of hemp as a fuel source near 100 years ago.  

You might be wondering, why didn’t the idea stick?  That’s a bit complicated and goes back to issues of legality and economics.  

The Future is Green

The more we learn about hemp, the more we fall in love with this miracle crop.  From its many uses to its carbon sequestration and soil cleaning capabilities, demand is inevitably going to grow.

Though its commercialization still faces constraints in some parts of the world, once those barriers are broken, we’ll be growing our way to a cleaner, greener future.

How do you support the hemp industry? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page – HempE Health & Beauty.

About the Author ~ Leah Feor
Leah is a strategic advisor and content creator for Simply Sustainable™. Balancing a triple bottom line for organizations and individuals is her utmost goal. She’s a big picture thinker with an eye for detail. Her passion for the environment and social impact bring her business background to life. Outdoor adventures, healthy living, and continuous learning are just a few of her favourite things. simplysustainableblog.com