Uncovering the Secrets of Industrial Hemp in Food and Nutrition

We all know the robust nutrition of hempseed, but what about the technical aspects relevant to a food product developer? The following are highlights from “Uncovering the secrets of industrial hemp in food and nutrition: The trends, challenges, and new-age perspectives” in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (2022).

Hemp is a valuable crop with a wide range of use, from applications in foods and textiles to pharmaceuticals. Over recent years, the use of hemp as food and food ingredients has drastically increased. The growth is driven by numerous health benefits hemp possesses and its wide range of applications in the food industry. This review provides the scientific literature concerning the benefits of industrial hemp in the food industry. The relevant historical context of use, recent applications in the food industry, health benefits, various development challenges, and the global market outlook for hemp-based food products have been analyzed. Evidence suggests that today hemp is widely consumed as food or an ingredient in the food. Hemp-based foods are marketed as having various health benefits, although their reception by target consumers and success varies. Besides, scientific research on hemp-derived foods has dramatically increased over recent years. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have investigated the health benefits of hemp-based foods. Therefore, there is a promising growth trend in producing novel foods from industrial hemp. Nevertheless, due to health concerns related to THC, there is a general need for regulatory compliance when integrating hemp into foods to ensure product safety before use.”

What it reveals is hempseed’s potential in the mainstream food industry:

Hemp as a valuable component for enriching physicochemical properties of foods (rheology: the structure of food, texture, size, and morphology; retain moisture, form films, or improve freeze-thaw stability; reducing the modulus of viscosity and elasticity in bread dough, improving the dough’s hardness, springiness, cohesiveness, and adhesiveness)

Hemp as a modifier of sensory characteristics of foods (such as color, flavor, and taste)

Film formation (early hemp patents were for this; superior to soya)

Emulsification (increases ability to go into solution)

Solubility (increases with pH)

Surface hydrophobicity (absorb oil droplets)

Anti-obesity properties (eating it reduced weight)

Antioxidant benefits (free radical scavenger)

Antihypertensive effects of hemp (from hempseed protein hydrolysate)

Anti-cancer benefits (hempseed protein hydrolysate is anti-proliferative and proapoptotic)

Antidiabetic effects (lowers blood sugar levels)

Studies cited found that supplementing foods with hempseed improved nutrition and fiber, increased free radical scavengers, and improved organopleptic properties, in both animal and human foods.

They estimated the market to be $3.92 billion globally in 2020 and is expected to be $7.08 billion in 2027, with a CAGR of 8.8%.

“Finally, more studies have yet to investigate the flavors of different hempseed cultivars. In a review elsewhere, authors suggested that different hemp cultivars possess distinct flavors ranging from weak to strong (Schluttenhofer and Yuan 2017). The study suggested that more work is needed in this area to allow the identification of the different tastes of hempseed cultivars. Information from the investigations will assist in expanding the use of hemp seed in human and animal food products.”

Historically, hemp has been a valuable raw material for producing various consumable products such as food, clothes, and medicine. Recently, the use of industrial hemp as food and food ingredients has dramatically increased. Industrial hemp has been found to possess numerous properties, especially its high nutritional value that allows its wide application in the food industry. The crop has been applied to produce new functional food products, including beverages, oil, and bread. Foods containing hemp constituents are currently marketed worldwide as beneficial to human health. These health claims have been widely investigated in both in vitro and in vivo studies, proving hemp as an essential food item. Moving forward, studies are required to design techniques that can enhance the quality of hemp-based food products, such as improving the final product’s sensory features and reducing THC levels of hemp seeds to improve acceptability among consumers.”

Read more from the Hemp Food Association at: https://the-hfa.org/uncovering-the-secrets-of-industrial-hemp-in-food-and-nutrition/

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