A recently developed hemp plant may prove to provide the ideal cooking oil; watch out, olive oil. The University of York reported that they have developed a hemp plant that contains a significantly higher quantity of oleic acid. The new hemp oil not only offers a longer shelf life and a higher heat tolerance but also has a very similar fatty acid makeup to olive oil.
The research, published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal, demonstrates that the scientists were able to traditionally breed the plants for a composition that had less polyunsaturated fatty acids and instead contained more monounsaturated oleic acids. In fact, the oil from the plant was almost 80% oleic acid. Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid and is found in high quantities in olive oil and many nuts. A high monounsaturated profile accompanied by a low polyunsaturated profile makes the oil more stable and temperature-resistant, which opens doors for many industrial applications. This makes growing hemp as an oil product very intriguing for farmers, because it is a high-yielding dual-crop while also being a low-input crop.
One cardiovascular benefit that has been associated with hemp oil and its omega-3 composition is that it can help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol and improve insulin sensitivity. Likewise, oleic acid (omega-9) has been associated with helping cells absorb omega-3s more efficiently! They also have been found to lower triglyceride levels and raise the “good” HDL cholesterol. This provides a very powerful effective combination to protect the heart. In fact, many studies have indicated that oleic acid is associated with lowered rates of heart disease. The true, complete composition of hemp oil is just starting to be recognized. For instance, a study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry detailed the numerous compounds in hempseed oil, which contains aliphatic alcohols, sterols and linolenic acids, which have all been associated with promoting good health.
The dramatically increased oleic acid content of this new hemp oil can greatly affect the marketability of hemp and provide farmers with another crop alternative. Not only is the oleic acid content of the newly developed hemp plant more heat-tolerant and more stable, which can increase its industrial and cooking uses, but this oil’s high oleic acid content can provide a very effective way of improving heart health.