The Prebiotic Value of Hemp

With the re-emergence of the domestic American hemp industry, wellness advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the nutritional value of hemp seed products. Of significant interest are the prebiotic qualities of hemp seed, which are rich in soluble & insoluble fiber, key ingredients to feed probiotic bacteria in the human gut. Hempseed is found on the market in several forms including whole seed, hulled hemp hearts, and hemp milk, which is typically made by adding water to cold pressed or blended hemp seed. A gram of hempseed typically has .3-.4 grams of fiber.

Hempseed milk particularly appears poised to meet consumer demand for vegetable milks, the market for which is currently dominated by soy and rice milks, which are low in protein & fiber and additionally have relatively high sugar contents. However, with fire damage to the immense Amazon ecosystem, the unsustainable practices underpinning soybean and rice agriculture, and an uncertain global trade environment, hemp is increasingly attractive as an alternative, as it has both a high nutritional value and the capacity for high yields in smaller fields.

By utilizing hempseed products, either for direct consumption or as an additive to fermented probiotic products, consumers will see a variety of benefits. Prebiotic fiber is key to nutrient absorption by the gut, and particularly magnesium and calcium, which has significant benefits in terms of bone density, reduced inflammation, and health of the gut wall. Moreover, hempseed fiber promote the production of short-chain fatty acids and are one of the few sources of complete, balanced Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.

Hempseed or hemp milk is also a novel ingredient in fermented probiotics drinks, and is associated with higher levels of bioactive compounds, particularly the short-chain fatty acids acetate, butyrate, and propionate. Interestingly, different terpenes found in hempseed may also positively impact the fermentation of probiotics by inhibiting the growth of enteropathogens. Currently, fermented probiotics using a hemp ingredient are only found in the Australian market, but renewed interest since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in the United States appears to herald the development of novel drink products in the American market.

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