Hemp oil is becoming an increasingly popular item in home kitchens in recent years thanks to its nutritional benefits and unique flavor. It contains essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties that can support your health and well-being.
Hemp oil has an earthy taste that can enhance the flavor of your dishes. However, it isn’t suitable for all types of cooking, and should be used with care and moderation.
What is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil is a natural cannabis extract typically made from hemp plant seeds. It doesn’t contain the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but does contain significant concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has been shown to play a role in improving symptoms of a range of health conditions, including epilepsy, anxiety, inflammation, and skin disorders.
Hemp oil is rich in essential fatty acids vital for the normal operation of all body systems. It contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which has anti-inflammatory and hormonal benefits. Its ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 3:1, considered to be the ideal balance for human health.
In this article, we’ll compare hemp oil with three common cooking oils, as well as provide some tips on how to use hemp oil in everyday cooking.
Olive Oil: The Mediterranean Staple
Olive oil is one of the most popular cooking oils. It’s commonly used in Italian dishes, but is also an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, known for its ability to improve heart health and lower risk of stroke.
Olive oil is mostly composed of monounsaturated fat, which can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, its 10.7:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids means that hemp oil offers more anti-inflammatory and brain-boosting benefits.
When compared with hemp oil, olive oil also contains approximately 40% more saturated fat which can raise cholesterol levels. Its antioxidant activity is also lower, meaning it’s less effective at neutralizing free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress and damage cells.
Coconut Oil: A Taste of Paradise
Coconut oil is another favorite among cooking oils. It’s used liberally in tropical cuisines, and is well-loved for its versatility and unmistakable flavor.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be quickly converted into energy. This contributes to it being a popular choice in diet programs like the ketogenic diet (i.e. keto), that aim to simultaneously increase ketone levels and reduce hunger.
The amount of MCTs in coconut oil is not very high and varies depending on its quality and processing. Coconut oil is mostly composed of the less desirable type of saturated fat.
Coconut oil does have some antimicrobial properties that help fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses, but it’s not as potent as hemp oil. It also contains some polyunsaturated fat, but in a smaller amount and less-ideal ratio than hemp oil.
Sunflower Oil: Mild and Unassuming
Sunflower oil is widely used in European and Asian cuisines. It’s a popular choice due to its high smoke point and unimposing flavor. Sunflower oil is mostly composed of polyunsaturated fat, which is available in higher concentrations than can be found in hemp oil.
Sunflower oil contains some monounsaturated fat (mostly omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids), while hemp oil contains mostly omega-3 and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Regular use of either oil may benefit heart health even though they differ in their types and proportions of these fats.
Sunflower oil is also known for its significant quantities of vitamin E, which protects against oxidative stress and inflammation. However, hemp oil contains greater quantities of vitamin E and many essential minerals.
Who Wins on Health?
Compared to olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil, hemp oil has a higher amount of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a more balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for preventing chronic diseases and maintaining nerve health.
It’s worth noting that hemp oil is not a miracle cure, and should be used in moderation. It’s best to consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes in order to avoid unexpected side effects.
Tips When First Cooking With Hemp
Hemp oil is easy to incorporate into cooking, but has a low smoke point and shouldn’t be exposed to direct heat for long. This makes it a poor choice for frying, but a great option for salads, dressings, sauces, smoothies, and a number of baked goods.
Hemp oil is a great addition to any pantry and easy to experiment with! Its nutty, earthy flavor can easily be used to enhance a range of dishes. Be sure to store it in a cool and dark place to prevent it from going bad prematurely.