Hemp seeds contain a variety of nutrients and bioactive compounds that may play an important role in human health. Of particular interest is the fact that hemp seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids. Hemp seeds are also unique and concentrated, plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, similar to those found in oily fish, which are especially important for cardiovascular health. Studies have suggested that dietary hemp seeds can provide significant cardioprotective effects, however, the extent to which the oil is responsible for such effects remains unknown.

A study recently published in The Journal of Nutrition compared the effect of dietary supplementation with hemp seeds and hemp seed oil on the development of metabolic disorders in genetically obese rats. Researchers Adam Jurgoński, Paulina Opyd (Polish Academy of Sciences), and colleagues hypothesized that hemp seed or hemp seed oil supplementation can reduce the effects of genetically determined metabolic disorders and that the former is more effective due to a wider range of bioactive compounds present in the seeds.

To test the hypothesis, lean and obese rats were assigned to four groups. The lean and obese controls were fed a standard diet, whereas the other two obese groups were fed a modified diet in which hemp oil or hemp seeds, both with similar fatty acid profiles, were included. After the fourth week, markers of gut and liver function, antioxidant status, and lipid metabolism were measured. Study results suggest that dietary hemp seeds were more effective in reducing metabolic disorders in genetically obese rats, signifying that the lipid fraction is only partly responsible for these effects. This study suggests that dietary supplementation with hemp seeds, which are rich in nutrients and other bioactive compounds, can mitigate genetically determined metabolic disorders; however, it is not able to lessen the development of obesity itself.


Opyd PM, Jurgoński A, Fotschki B, Juśkiewicz J. Dietary Hemp Seeds More Effectively Attenuate Disorders in Genetically Obese Rats than Their Lipid Fraction. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 6, June 2020, Pages 1425–1433, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa081.

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