Flaxseed has been around for centuries, great for heart, skin, gut, and brain health. Well move over, flaxseed oil, there’s a new oil is in town. Hemp oil is now considered one of the world’s healthiest oils. In this article, we will lay out why hemp oil exceeds dominates many health categories and can beat flaxseed oil every time.
Before the two go head-to-head, let’s explore both hemp oil and flaxseed oil in more detail.
What is Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed, or linseed, comes from the flax plant. Though the flax plant was once known best for the use of its fibers in the production of clothing, these days it has been cultivated all around the world for its seeds.
Whole flaxseeds, milled flaxseed, and flaxseed oil are all derived from his plant. The most nutritionally beneficial flax products are freshly milled flaxseed or flaxseed oil. The seeds, however, must be ground or they won’t be digested. Hemp can be eaten whole or ground.
The seeds have a nutty flavor and can be eaten by themselves or crushed and cold-pressed into flaxseed oil. Typically they are used as a supplement or an ingredient in a variety of foods, and sometimes even in pet food.
Flaxseed has high concentrations of plant lignans, 100 times more than most other plant foods. This is something hemp doesn’t have. Lignans are phytochemicals that have been linked to the prevention of both breast and prostate cancer. These lignans can reduce estrogen when it comes to PMS, endometriosis, and breast cancer.
Some other benefits of flaxseed oil are:
- Reduction of cholesterol
- Reduction of inflammation
- Reduction of blood clots from platelet aggregation
- Supports brain function, which may help with degenerative diseases and help with ADHD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder
- Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Helps with constipation
- Reduces anxiety
- Post-recovery of exercise
- Reduces osteoarthritis
- Helps with weight loss
- Reduces symptoms of diabetes
Flaxseed oil is a cold-pressed oil. The method of cold-pressing is the process of making oil by pressing the seeds through a steel press. If it isn’t cold-pressed it will lose some nutrition, flavor, and aroma.
What is Hemp Seed Oil?
Hemp seed oil comes from the cannabis Sativa plant, which contains less than 0.3% THC. It has only trace amounts of cannabinoids, if at all. This includes cannabidiol (CBD).
Hemp seed oil, also known as hemp oil, is produced by cold-pressing hemp seeds. The flavor of unrefined hemp seed oil ranges from nutty to grassy depending on the darkness of the oil. Refined hemp oil is clear and odorless because it has been bleached and deodorized. This type of hemp oil is commonly used for beauty products, fuel, lubricants, and plastics.
Hemp oil is not to be confused with CBD oil which is made from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of hemp, as opposed to its seeds. Hemp oil’s benefits typically are more nutritional, while CBD’s benefits are more helpful for conditions like anxiety and depression. For even more benefits, it is a good idea to buy CBD oil that is made with hemp carrier oil.
Contributing to hemp seed oil’s nutritional value are its 8 B vitamins, 20 amino acids, 9 of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make. They are:
Many hemp oil nutrients can improve our immune systems, mood, organ function, metabolism, and cardiovascular health. Here are some common health benefits hemp oil provides:
- Skincare: Has multiple skincare benefits like treating atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Hemp oil can moisturize, soothe inflammation, and moderate oil production on your face. It is also said to have anti-aging properties. Can be used as a topical agent or ingested.
- Heart health: Contains sterols or steroid alcohols that may lower LDL cholesterol and lower heart attack risk. Hemp oil also contains aliphatic alcohols that can lower cholesterol and reduce platelet aggregation. They contain an antioxidant known as phytol which also has anti-cancer benefits. Hemp oil also contains essential fatty acids (EFAs). Omega 3 and omega 6 support heart health through the slowing of plaque buildup in arteries and lowering blood pressure.
- Anti-inflammatory: Consists of omega-3 fatty acids such as linolenic acids that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation can contribute to conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. Linolenic acids may also help with PMS and menopause.
- Neuroprotective properties: Contains antioxidants such as tocopherol that are beneficial for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and atherosclerosis.
- Nutritional benefits: Contains vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene and is a great source of protein. It also contains minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, calcium.
Like flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil can be beneficial for cardiovascular health and reducing inflammation. Before we contrast these two oils, let’s see how they are alike.
What Do Hemp Oil and Flaxseed Oil Have in Common?
- Amino acids: As both are complete proteins, this means that both contain all 9 of the essential amino acids that the body can’t make on its own. These are vital for functions like protein synthesis, tissue repair, and nutrient absorption. Amino acids target specific and diverse areas of your metabolism.
Proteins: Both hemp and flaxseed oils are high in protein. Proteins are chains of amino acids formed together in a chain. They provide your body with a structural framework and help maintain proper pH and fluid.
Fiber: Both hemp and flaxseeds oils are high in fiber. Having a high-fiber diet helps reduce constipation and helps with weight loss and maintenance. It can help lower cholesterol, and thus the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Can reduce anxiety and depression: Flax and hemp supply both tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids to increase serotonin, which can improve anxiety and depression. Serotonin can then be converted to melatonin by our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle which promotes better sleep.
Reduced stress: Magnesium is found in high levels in both oils, which is known to reduce stress and promote better sleep. This is because it can relax muscles and the nervous system. It may even help prevent restless leg syndrome and night terrors, which can cause rough nights of sleep.
Fight inflammation: Both have anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp seed oil can be helpful for infections, autoimmune disorders, injuries, headaches, back pain, and fibromyalgia.
- Essential fatty acids (EFAs): One of the biggest things that hemp oil and flaxseed oil have in common are omega fatty acids. They can increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals to nourish the skin, hair, and nails, promote proper nerve functioning, help produce hormones, ensure normal growth development, and treat disease. Although both hemp and flax contain these valuable EFAs, the amounts differ greatly.
Now that we know how these two oils compare, we will contrast the two in a match-up.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Hemp oil and flax oil both have high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Fatty acids are components of complex lipids. They differ by chain length and presence, as well as the number and position of double bonds in the hydrocarbon chain.
We consider hemp seed to be a higher plant source of EFAs. Let’s take a look at how these two oils stack up to each other.
Omega-3s: Though flaxseed oil is one of the better vegetarian sources of omega 3, It is harder for our bodies to convert flaxseed oil into two of the omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The conversion rate comes to only about 10 to 15%, though this is still higher than walnut or soybean oil.
Flaxseed is, however, a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is essential for cell membranes and helps fight inflammation. The omega-3 in flaxseed oil is exclusively ALA, the short-chain fatty acids. It does not, however, contain any stearidonic acid (SDA), which is found in a potent form in hemp oil.
Omega-6s: Though flax may have more omega-3s, hemp seed oil supplies just the right ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids that we need. A ratio of 3:1 omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids is exactly what is required for humans long term consumption. It is highly unusual for foods to naturally provide the right ratio, which earns it the name “Nature’s most perfectly balanced oil.”
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is found in evening primrose oil, borage, and blackcurrant seed oil. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid, a building block for prostaglandins, which are important for reducing linoleic acid (LA) inflammatory pathways in the body. It is not necessarily needed in a supplement form since we get enough omega-6s in our diet. However, hemp seed oil contains just the right amount of GLA.
People who suffer from eczema or psoriasis cannot convert linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid due to a deficiency of delta-6-desaturase. These people could benefit from taking any of these sources of GLA.
- Omega-9s: Both hemp oil and flaxseed oil contain omega 9, or oleic acid, another beneficial fatty acid.
Hemp oil has more EFAs than flax oil, as well as two polyunsaturated fats GLA and SDA that aren’t present in flax oil. Not only does this make it a good alternative to flax oil, but it can also rival fish oil, which is well known for its EFAs.
Winner: Hemp oil
Protein is essential for the growth and repair of our bodies; acting as the building blocks of everything from our organs, muscles, bones, skin, and hair.
Hemp seed is an excellent source of protein. It far outshines flaxseed in this area, providing almost 7 grams in 2 tablespoons. This is equal to the amount of protein found in two egg whites. This is almost double the amount of protein as flaxseed which contains 5.7 grams in a 3 tablespoon serving.
Hemp seed protein is not typical in that it contains all essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. It contains all 20 known amino acids, not to mention all 9 of the essential amino acids.
Hemp seed is second only to the soybean in protein content. However, hemp protein is free of trypsin inhibitors which block protein absorption and free of oligosaccharides that are present in soy.
About 65% of hemp seed protein is made of the globulin protein known as Edestin that is found exclusively in hemp seed. It aids in digestion and is the backbone of the cell’s DNA. Albumin is also present, a protein similar to those found in egg whites.
Winner: Hemp oil
Iron and Zinc
Hemp oil contains both iron and zinc, which are both very important for body functions. Iron is a mineral that your body needs for growth and development. It is used to make hemoglobin for the blood and myoglobin for the muscles, as well as used to make some hormones.
Zinc helps the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses. It is also needed to make proteins and DNA. Especially during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, zinc is needed to grown and develop properly.
Flax oil on the other hand has no mineral content.
Winner: Hemp oil
In Your Diet
Both hemp oil and flaxseed oil are a bit too fragile for cooking. They both must be refrigerated to avoid rancidity and oxidation. The two have low smoke points, which means you can’t cook anything with them.
But, hemp oil has one of the lowest amounts of saturated fat and the highest amount of polyunsaturated fat in cooking oils. It has about 75 to 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids, compared to 29% in flaxseed oil and 28% in canola oil. This is highest in the plant kingdom and is unique among vegetable oils.
These kinds of fats are great for lowering your LDL, the bad cholesterol. This in turn lowers the risk of heart disease.
To incorporate hemp oil into your diet, combine it in any of the following:
- Salad dressings
- Protein shakes
- Sandwich spreads
- Cold soups
Both flax and hemp seeds are high in calories, but flax has slightly more.
Winner: Hemp oil
Hemp Oil Wins in the Head-to-Head
Hemp oil has earned its name as one of the world’s healthiest oils. And although flaxseed oil shares a lot of the same great health benefits, hemp oil edges out on top. Hemp oil is high in protein, EFAs, vitamins, and minerals. You can use it for anything from skincare to arthritis to stress to a tasty dressing on a salad. The benefits of the hemp plant just go on and on...
As a disclaimer, we want to state that this content is for informational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment. It should not be interpreted as instruction or medical advice to displace the advice of your doctor or other medical professionals. We recommend talking to your doctor to prepare a treatment plan for any diseases or ailments.