The seed of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional Quality and Potential Functionality for Human Health and Nutrition

Nutrients. 2020 Jun 29;12(7):1935. doi: 10.3390/nu12071935.


Hempseeds, the edible fruits of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, were initially considered a by-product of the hemp technical fibre industry. Nowadays, following the restorationing of the cultivation of C. sativa L. plants containing an amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) <0.3% or 0.2% (industrial hemp) there is a growing interest for the hempseeds production due to their high nutritional value and functional features. The goal of this review is to examine the scientific literature concerning the nutritional and functional properties of hempseeds. Furthermore, we revised the scientific literature regarding the potential use of hempseeds and their derivatives as a dietary supplement for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory and chronic-degenerative diseases on animal models and humans too. In the first part of the work, we provide information regarding the genetic, biochemical, and legislative aspects of this plant that are, in our opinion essential to understand the difference between "industrial" and "drug-type" hemp. In the final part of the review, the employment of hempseeds by the food industry as livestock feed supplement and as ingredient to enrich or fortify daily foods has also revised. Overall, this review intends to encourage further and comprehensive investigations about the adoption of hempseeds in the functional foods field.

Keywords: Cannabis sativa L. legislation; THC; antinutritional compounds; bioactive peptides; hempseed dietary supplementation; hempseed minerals; hempseed oil; hempseed proteins; hempseed-based food; phenylpropionammides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dronabinol / analysis
  • Functional Food / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Seeds / chemistry*


  • Dronabinol