Ask Ashley Koff, RD, Calmful Living Nutrition Editor
I have heard that I should skip hemp foods because omega-6 fats are bad for you. I really like hemp seed, but I don’t want to do something wrong for my health. Help, please!
Dear Need Hemp Help,
Well, you would have to skip a lot more than hemp to avoid omega-6 fatty acids, and in doing so, you would be doing your body, and health, a big disservice. We (folks talking nutrition) haven’t made it simple to understand what is a good fat or a bad fat and why— especially when it comes to omegas; so let me give you better hemp nutrition, simplified, here.
There are fatty acids that the body must get from food because we don’t make them and we need them for optimal health functioning. Omega-6s are one class of those fatty acids—we call them “essential fatty acids.” In fact, physiologically we need more omega-6 fats than omega-3s! However, many of our diets—due to processed foods, including highly refined foods, manufacturer desire for cheaper versions of fats, and chemistry lab projects—have swayed too far on the omega-6 side, with less of the omega-3s. Thus, many health advisors have communicated a need for more omega-3s to correct this imbalance. While this makes sense, and is effective to correct an imbalance in the diet, it does not mean to avoid whole-food sources of omega-6s.
“There are fatty acids that the body must
get from food because we don’t make them.”
The main reason not to avoid whole-food sources of omega-6 fatty acids is that in nature we don’t have “omega-6 foods” and “omega-3 foods” but have food sources that contain fatty acids—a combination of omega-3s and omega-6s, as well as nonessential, but healthy for us, fats. So, what you should avoid are poor-quality fats. And what you should consume are foods, like hemp, that contain healthy fat profiles. Hemp’s a good choice because it contains both omega-6s (including a hard-to-get-in fatty acid, GLA, that is important for hormone health as well as healthy hair, skin and nails) and omega-3s; in fact, it contains them in the ratio many experts believe is the optimal one for better health (4:1—omega-6:omega-3).
Glad you asked your question, as I know so many others who are confused on the topic too. Now go enjoy your hemp!