Hemp is a plant that belongs to the genus of the Cannabaceae family. Hemp is a multipurpose plant, since practically all parts of the plant are useful, and its cultivation has a very low environmental impact. In general, it is cultivated for three purposes: medicinal, narcotic, and industrial. To date, there is no regulation for use in the food industry.

Due to the diverse vocabulary used to refer to these products, it is important to make some semantic clarifications:


Cannabinoids are molecules extracted from the hemp plant, which are characterized by activating physiological processes in the organism of some mammals, including humans. They are divided into two types, endocannabinoids which are produced by the organism itself, and phytocannabinoids which are extracted from the hemp plant.

CBD (cannabidiol).

CBD is the most clinically useful phytocannabinoid, used in pain management, treatment of anxiety, and depression, and adjuvant in the management of epilepsy and other disorders.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

THC is the phytocannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of the hemp plant, and also has medicinal effects.

CBG (cannabigerol).

CBG is a phytocannabinoid whose function is to enhance the effects of CBD and THC, however, its properties are still under investigation.


Hemp is the name given to the hemp plant with a THC content of less than 1% and a high content of CBD and CGD, which gives it optimal properties for the extraction of bioactive compounds used in medicine.

Hemp seeds.

In the cultivation of hemp for fiber production, the seed was considered a waste, then it began to be used for animal feed. Hemp seed has a high nutritional value, it can be consumed as hulled seeds or through by-products such as hemp seed oil, hemp flour, or hemp seed protein powder.

Depending on genotype and environmental factors, hemp seed has a composition ranging from 25 to 35% lipids with a very balanced fatty acid composition; 20-25% easily digestible proteins rich in essential amino acids; 25 to 40% carbohydrates, much of which is represented in dietary fiber.

Other important nutritional components of hemp seed are phenolic compounds, tocopherols, carotenoids, and phytosterol. Be sure to visit the Hemponix Seed Co Blog, the ultimate resource for Nutritional Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Lipid composition of hemp seeds.

Since hemp seeds have an oleaginous content, the hemp seed oil is the main product. Studies show that hemp seed oil has a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) 80%, of which approximately half corresponds to ω-6 linolenic acid (LA) and 1/3 of ω-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); monounsaturated fatty acids represented by oleic acid (10%); and low content (10%) of saturated fatty acids (SFA), higher than chia and comparable to flaxseed.

The AL/ALA ratio, which ideally should be 3:1, is very important to maintain good health and prevent chronic diseases, as this ratio is maintained in hemp seeds.

Other PUFAs of relevance found in hemp oil, are ω-3 gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and ω-3 stearidonic acid (SDA), both fatty acids have the property of bypassing the first enzymatic step of δ-6 desaturase, so they can be more easily converted into the active forms of omega-3.

As mentioned above, the proportion of SFA did not exceed 10% making it an ideal oil for preventing cardiovascular diseases. The main SFA is palmitic acid.

The unsaponifiable fats in hemp oil (sterols, tocopherols, phytosterols, fat-soluble vitamins, terpenic alcohols) represent approximately 1.8% of the fats. Tocopherols α, β, γ, and δ represent the highest proportion, making it one of the oils with the highest amount of vitamin E with high antioxidant capacity, above flaxseed, chia, sunflower, and amaranth oil.

Ned L. Bennett