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How about hemp seeds?

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  1. Sue J
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  3. July 18, 2017
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Hi Dr. Carney,

You recommend chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts as sources of omega 3 fats because they do not create inflammation in the body. I'm assuming this is the case as long as they are eaten within reasonable amounts of course : ) How about hemp seeds? 

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Linda Carney MD Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hi Sue,

Thank you for your question about hemp seeds.  I am delighted that you asked!

May I please clarify my omega-3 recommendation?  I actually recommend that people consume the majority of their omega-3 fatty acid precursors from leafy greens at 2 different meals per day, rather than from walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.  Most people will get all the omega-3s that they need from leafy greens twice per day, even if they never ate flax, chia, or walnuts (each of which is much higher in fat than leafy greens).

Fatty foods like flax, chia, and walnuts actually can cause inflammation in some people because they do contain some omega-6s, although their more numerous omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.  There are some people who should not even consume flax, walnuts, or chia due to their highly inflamed state, or their overweight status, or due to other medical conditions.

But about hemp seeds:  they are not worth the high price!

Hemp seed has way more protein than either flax or chia, so it appeals to proteinaholics.  Yet hemp is far lower in omega-3 fatty acid precursors than in omega-6...a real drawback, in my book.  In fact, hemp has too much of the inflammatory omega-6 for me to want to use it much.  Hemp offers 3 times as much omega-6 as it does omega-3, which is the opposite of the favorable ratio that flax and chia afford.  Hemp has slightly more calories from fat than does flax, which provides more fat calories than chia offers.  73% of Hemp’s calories come from fat, with more than 7% as saturated fat.  The AHA recommends no more than 7% of calories to come from saturated fat, which is implicated in cancer, inflammatory diseases, and vascular disease.

Hemp (like chia) is WAY more expensive than flax.  I pay less than $2 per pound of flax seed but more than $12 per pound of hemp seeds, which is similar to chia’s price of $10 per pound.

One of the most important nutrients is fiber, which is sadly insufficient in the diet of most Americans.  Here is another of the biggest drawbacks of hemp, which has almost no fiber at all compared with chia, which offers even more than flax.

Because hemp has too high a cost, while offering too little fiber, and too little omega-3’s even though it is higher in overall fat than either flax or chia, I almost never use hemp.  Because hemp tastes so much like walnuts (to me), I do not see much use for hemp in my kitchen.  And when it comes to avoiding those inflammation-prone omega-6 fatty acids, well hemp should take a hike, if you ask me.

Except for one thing:  If you are allergic to soy, and you are young and desperately skinny and trying to put on bodyfat, hemp tofu can be tastefully substituted for firm soy tofu in many recipes.

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Sue J Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Thank you for this detailed response Dr Carney. I really appreciate the clarification and for listing the reasons why you're not enthusiastic about hemp. I attempted to compare hemp to walnuts based on the criteria you mention, and it seems walnuts don't measure up to hemp. As you know, I like raw organic walnuts, so I'm hoping that it's okay to eat them. 

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Linda Carney MD Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I think walnuts are the nuts highest in omega-3s.  And they taste great!

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Norma Jean Gaston Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Never mind, I answered my own question by referring back to the chart! Invaluable tool!

  Hurst, TX, USA
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