Botanical Extraction

Hemp Food and Supplements

Lydia Kariuki
Written by Lydia Kariuki

Since hemp was legalized, it has become the go-to raw material and ingredient for several high-value industries. This includes building and construction, plastics, medicine, fuel, and now the nutritional segment is gunning for this space. Hempseeds have been found in tombs dating back 3,000 BC; their nutritional value has been respected for millennia. [1]

Many multi-nationals are looking to cash in on hemp by adding hemp compounds to their products. There are benefits accrued in so doing, and a recent study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research highlights a good number. [1]


Hemp Supplements—Bioactive Compounds

Hemp contains hundreds of different bioactive compounds, including terpenoids, cannabinoids, hydrocarbons, non-cannabinoid phenols, fatty acids, proteins, glycoproteins, and enzymes, among others. These compounds can be used in the production of food and supplements. [1]


Hemp Protein

Hempseeds represent about 25% protein, 25% carbohydrate, and 33% fat, but this may vary based on the hemp genotype. [1] Another 10-15% comprises insoluble fiber, minerals (e.g., magnesium and zinc), and vitamins (e.g., vitamin A and vitamin E). [2] This strong profile means hempseed can enrich crackers and other flour products. [1]

Hemp protein is rich in essential amino acids such as methionine, cysteine, and arginine which has significant cardiovascular benefits (see [3] for arginine benefits). [1] Because hemp protein contains all the essential amino acids, it is considered a complete protein source. This is what makes hemp protein powder (made by grinding hemp seeds and removing oil) a superfood. Protein powders are nutritional supplements commonly used by those trying to gain weight and increase muscle mass, such as athletes and body builders.

The oil from the hempseeds can be extracted using solvents like propane or supercritical carbon dioxide, leaving the protein powder behind as raffinate. Hemp protein offers antihypertensive benefits that are mediated through the inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and renin. [4] This has provided an incentive for further research on hemp protein powder as a viable antihypertensive nutritional supplement.

Hemp seeds are fiber-rich. Fiber not only lowers the risk for constipation but also improves digestion, lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, and helps prevent diverticular disease.

Companies offering hemp protein powder include Navitas Naturals, Hemp Oil Canada, North American Hemp & Grain Co., and Green Source Organics, among others.

Hemp Seed Cooking Oil

Hemp seed oil has a pleasant, nutty-flavor and may be used to cook meals. As a cooking oil, it can help to improve the ratio between total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. [1] Montserrat-de la Paz et al [5] note that it is “perfectly balanced in regard to the ratio (3:1) of two polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) essential for human nutrition, linoleic and linolenic acids.” Benefits may extend to skincare and confer reductions in dryness and itchiness. [1]


Future Directions

Research on the potential benefits of hemp in the nutritional segment is still preliminary; this is especially true for hemp sprouts, which pack flavonoids and other benefits. So far, the FDA considers hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) as a drug only due to its approval in Epidiolex. [1]

However, as most states have rolled out their hemp programs, we expect to see hemp taking center stage in the nutrition and supplement sectors.


Image Source

D-Kuru, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT



1- Cerino P, et al. A review of hemp as food and nutritional supplement. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2021:19-27. [Impact Factor: 5.764; Times Cited: 2 (Semantic Scholar)]

2- Irakli M, Tsaliki E, Kalivas A, Kleisiaris F, Sarrou E, Cook CM. Effect οf genotype and growing year on the nutritional, phytochemical, and antioxidant properties of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) seeds. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(10):491. doi:10.3390/antiox8100491. [Impact Factor: 4.520; Times Cited: 14 (Semantic Scholar)]

3- Sudar-Milovanovic E, et al. Benefits of L-arginine on cardiovascular system. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. 2016;16(2):94–103. [Impact Factor: 2.733; Times Cited: 12 (Semantic Scholar)]

4- Daskaya-Dikmen, et al. Angiotensin-I-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitory peptides from plants. Nutrients. 2017;9(4):316. [Impact Factor: 4.546; Times Cited: 84 (Semantic Scholar)]

5- Montserrat-de la Paz, et al. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) seed oil: Analytical and phytochemical characterization of the unsaponifiable fraction. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2014;62(5):1105-1110. [Impact Factor: 4.192; Times Cited: 65 (Semantic Scholar)]

About the author

Lydia Kariuki

Lydia Kariuki

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