- Hemp is becoming more popular in food and skincare products.
- Nutritional benefits of hemp in food include hemp seeds being considered a complete source of protein.
- The ingredients in hemp seed oil could assist with inflamed skin and help keep skin hydrated.
- Hemp is different from cannabidiol (CBD).
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘hemp’?
For some, it could be smoky stores with tie-dyed tees and posters. For others, it might be the type of fabric you may wear to a massage.
More and more frequently, hemp is popping up everywhere in our daily lives – from our food to our skincare. So, what are the potential benefits of hemp seeds, oils and lotions?
We spoke to nutritionist and pharmacist Sarah Gray and dermatologist Dr Elizabeth Dawes-Higgs to get the low down on the potential benefits of hemp in food and skincare.
But first, let’s take a look at what we mean by hemp.
Colloquially, hemp is a term used to describe any cannabis plant that is cultivated for fibre and seed.
What is hemp?
According to the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control, “Hemp and cannabis are both terms used to describe a plant in the genus Cannabis. Colloquially, hemp is a term used to describe any cannabis plant that is cultivated for fibre and seed. It will generally contain very low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).”
In 2017, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was changed to allow the sale of food produced from low THC plants, provided they meet certain requirements. For edible hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, they need to:
- be from low THC plants
- have no more than 5mg/kg of total THC for seeds and 10mg/kg for oil
- be non-viable (not able to germinate) and hulled for seeds
- only have cannabinoids that are naturally present in or on the seeds used for the product
- have a maximum cannabidiol (CBD) level of 75 mg/kg.
- Hemp is widely respected as an extremely handy plant. It grows quickly and has a bunch of potential uses, from nutrition to skincare – not to mention all the things that could be made from its fibres.
Hemp seeds are considered a complete source of protein.
The nutritional benefits of hemp
Sarah explains what we need to know about hemp food nutrition and the potential health benefits of hemp oil.
“Hemp seeds have a favourable nutritional profile being rich in protein, fibre, healthy fats (such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids) and antioxidants. They also contain Vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc,” Sarah says.
Hemp seeds are considered a complete source of protein as they contain all 9 essential amino acids. This is especially important as our bodies can’t produce these, so they must be consumed through diet.
Sarah adds, “Hemp seeds are a nice addition to anyone’s diet, but especially for plant-based diets as there are limited plant sources that are rich in complete sources of protein.”
She says that hemp seeds could be included in your diet in a variety of ways. Her top suggestions included sprinkling whole or ground seeds on cereal or yogurt, adding to smoothies, using in baking and even sprinkling on a salad with other nuts and seeds for extra texture and crunch.
How your skin can benefit from hemp
You may have also seen some hemp skin lotions around. Dr Elizabeth explains the potential benefits of including hemp seeds in skin products and if there are any hemp oil benefits for skin.
She says, “Hemp seed oil contains omega- 6 and omega- 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. These ingredients may help inflamed skin and could also help to keep skin hydrated.”
So, hemp oil’s benefits for skin are actually similar to the reason they’re great in food – they contain ingredients that are good for us.
Not to be confused with CBD
We need to note that hemp and CBD are not the same thing.
There’s lots of news surrounding CBD and CBD products right now. But we’re talking about the seeds from the hemp plant – not the specific substances you could extract from them.
Of course, if you have any questions about adding hemp to your diet or skincare routine, be sure to consult your health professional.
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Sarah Gray is both a Registered Pharmacist and Registered Nutritionist with a particular interest in health education and helping people to take small steps to big change in their health journey. So that’s what led Sarah to become Head of Health and Nutrition on the healthylife Advisory Board
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board December 2021.