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Understanding Hemp


Have you heard of hemp? From hemp protein to hemp seeds to hemp oils, hemp products are trending world-wide—yet there is still much confusion over what it is. As new products hit the shelves, we want to keep you up to date on how hemp might have a place in your wellness plan.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is rapidly gaining popularity in the US, but the crop it comes from has been around for thousands of years. According to the USDA plant classification system, hemp is the common term used to describe the scientific genus Cannabis sativa L.1
The Cannabis sativa plant has been harvested for many years for its fiber, seeds and oil, and has also been used for medicinal, nutritional and industrial purposes. Other compounds identified in hemp include terpenoids, flavonoids, nitrogenous compounds and other common plant molecules.2-3
Despite misperception, hemp is not marijuana. Marijuana gets you high; hemp does not. The confusion likely comes from the fact that they both derived from the Cannabis sativa L. plant.3 While they are both born from the same plant, hemp comes from the fiber and seed part of the plant, while marijuana mainly comes from the flowering part.
Industrial hemp is used to make a variety of products, from food and supplements to non-food items such as paper, molded plastics, body care products and more.3
Hemp Nutrition
Hemp holds VIP status as a nutrition superstar—not only for its high fiber content, but for its fatty acid composition and protein content, too. The seed typically contains over 30% oil and approximately 25% protein as well as fiber and various amounts of vitamins and minerals.4
Hemp Protein
As the popularity of plant-based proteins rise, so does the interest in hemp protein. Despite being plant-based, hempseeds contain significant amounts of all essential amino acids and have exceptionally high levels of the amino acid arginine.4 One ounce (or 3 tablespoons) of shelled hemp seeds provides approximately 10 grams of protein.5 Hemp protein powder is made from whole hemp seed meal that has had the oil removed. The hemp seed oil is removed using a cold expeller press and the remaining meal is milled into powder. Hemp protein powder is considered a complete protein. It is also highly absorbable and hypoallergenic.3
Hemp Oils and Extracts
Now that we have the basics down, what’s the difference between hempseed oil, hemp oil and hemp extract?
Hempseed oil is extracted using a cold expeller press from the seeds of industrial hemp. Though you might see them listed different ways on products and supplements, hempseed oil is just another way to say hemp oil, and both are considered hemp extracts. In short, they all mean the same thing.7
Hempseed oil is an exceptionally rich source of linoleic (omega-6) and linolenic (omega-3) acids, giving it the reputation as a perfectly balanced source of those two essential fatty acids.6 You can find it in your local grocery store, right next to other common types of edible oils. In addition to being a nutty-tasting oil, it is also used to make a variety of non-food items, such as skin care products, eco-friendly paints and more.6
Whatever type of hemp you choose, one thing is for sure—it looks like hemp is here to stay!

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