The use of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in food and beverages has grown in popularity in recent years. Hemp products and their extracts are believed to promote health and wellness. Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil have become a common sight in health shops, as have food and beverage products containing extracts. Generally, extracts contain cannabidiol (CBD), an ingredient found in the hemp plant.

However, this compound does not give consumers the feeling of getting ‘high’ – that is left to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. THC can also be extracted, but it is usually regulated and not found in food and beverages available in the retail market.

Health benefits of hemp

Hemp seeds can commonly be bought hulled.

Hemp seeds are highly nutritious and they are especially rich in healthy fats, protein, and minerals. These seeds are commonly sold in health shops, the health section in supermarkets and some larger pharmacy franchises in South Africa. In addition, hemp seed oil is also commonly sold and can be consumed as a health supplement or added to food such as salads.

These tiny seeds have a mild, nutty flavour and can be added to almost any meal. In addition, they can be sprinkled over salads or blended into smoothies. This superfood includes healthy omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and they are also rich in protein. In fact, these seeds are higher in protein than other super seeds such as chia and flax.

Hemp seed also contains vitamin E and loads of minerals that include phosphorous, sodium, potassium, sulphur, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Health benefits of CBD

CBD is great for relaxation and is commonly used as a remedy for sleep. In addition, it is known for giving one a feeling of wellbeing. It is said to relieve pain and even aid in the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

According to an article by Food Manufacture, the global CBD market is estimated to grow to US$2,17 billion by 2030, which is up from the estimated US$462 million in 2018.

A report from Persistence Market Research indicates that 256 new food and beverage products have been launched in recent years in Europe. This figure is almost double that of the United States (US).

Popular CBD edibles include candy such as lollipops and gummy bears. Furthermore, energy drinks, kombucha as well as tea and coffee with CBD is also very trendy at the moment. CBD can also be infused with alcoholic drinks such as beer or cocktails.

Regulations pertaining to foodstuffs

Regulation of CBD differs across the world, or the substance might still be in the process of being regulated. However, it is mostly allowed in food and beverages as long as it contains extracts of plants that have a low level of THC.

In the United Kingdom, for example, CBD products are legal as long as there are no claims that it can treat disease. In South Africa, CBD should be extracted from cannabis plants with a THC content of 0,2% or lower. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates CBD products. The FDA prohibits people from adding drugs to food, but exceptions are being made in certain states.

In South Africa, preparations containing CBD must comply with the standards published by the minister of health on 23 May 2019. These regulations state that products containing CBD must contain a maximum daily dose of 20mg. In addition, it must include an accepted low-risk claim or health claim that only refers to general health enhancement without any reference to specific diseases, health maintenance or relief of minor symptoms (not related to a disease or disorder). Unlike THC, the World Health Organization has found no grounds that CBD is addictive.

Chocolate hemp seed smoothie

Make a healthy hemp seed smoothie.

The vegan smoothie recipe below makes use of raw cacao, hemp seeds and cinnamon for both taste and health benefits.


1½ ripe bananas, peeled and frozen.
2 cups unsweetened almond milk.
1½ tablespoons raw cacao powder.
1 tbsp hemp seeds.
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
3 large ice cubes.


Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

CBD brownies

If you have a high-quality CBD oil at home, you can use it for baking delicious brownies to responsibly take the edge off.

A healthier version of the space cake.


4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups cocoa powder
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3 eggs, room temperature
1½ cups butter, melted
3 tbsp high-quality CBD oil


  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a second bowl combine the wet ingredients.
  3. Now mix the wet and dry ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased baking tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Bake at 180°C for 12 minutes.
  6. Let the brownies cool and cut into portions. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit