Activity 5 – Value-added hempseed and processing fractions for improved food attributes

Summary:

While hempseed (Cannabis Sativa) has been used as a food or medicinal source since antiquity, its nutritional profile has only been recently studied. Hempseed oil and protein hydrolysates have been well studied; the favorable ω-6/ω-3 ratio and complete profile of essential amino acids are nutritionally beneficial and have been attributed to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanism of action and the exact bioactive components responsible for observed health benefits remain largely unknown. Bioactive phytochemicals of hempseed including tocopherols, phenolic compounds and lignanamides have been reported for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects; however, systematic examination on the phytochemical composition of different varieties of hempseed, its processing fractions and by-products including dehulled seed, defatted seed meal and the hulls has not been carried out. Bound phenolics and their potential contribution to health benefits have not been reported. Initial studies on hemp protein is indicative of its nutritional value, while bioactive peptides generated through hydrolysis might be involved in antioxidant and anti-hypertensive effects, with further studies required to confirm the identities and validate the mode of actions of the bioactive peptides. Low-grade inflammation and extended exposure to oxidative stress are the root cause of these non-communicable chronic diseases, and gut-level inflammation directly affects our immune system as 70% of the entire immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tissues. Effects of hemp bioactives on biomarkers related to inflammation, immune response, and interactions with gut microbiota therefore become critically important for the potential health benefits of consuming hemp, but such effects are currently unknown.

The proposed project primarily addresses the Economic Growth & Development research priority set by CIFST, while also incorporating aspects of the Sector Resilience & Societal Challenges research priority. This project targets multiple aspects of the hemp agricultural cycle. This includes understanding what cultivars are grown and their basic quality parameters, as well as how milling, thermal, and biological processing alters the nutritional, functional, and health promoting attributes of hemp. A systematic approach is taken to evaluate different hemp cultivars, hemp products and processing by-products and co-products, using chemical/biochemical methods as well as cell culture and animal models. Results of this project will benefit hemp producers and the hemp value chain while advancing the Canadian hemp industry by generating new information on the nutritional value and health attributes of Canadian hemp and furthering the development of new and highly nutritious varieties. Information on the various bioactive components and their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, especially interactions with the gut microbiome and modulatory effects on immune responses, will provide essential information to regulatory agencies for potential health claims, and conveys a positive message to the general public on the health benefits of hempseed beyond its basic nutritional value. The beneficial effects especially on gut health will result in increased consumption of hempseed based foods, and understanding the bioactives in different parts of the hempseed will lead to utilization of processing by-products or co-products such as hempseed bran and meal, generating additional value for hemp farmers and processors.

Researchers

Principal investigator

RONG CAO (RONG TSAO),
Research Scientist
University of Alberta

Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
93 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5C9, Canada

Co-applicant

MATTHEW G. NOSWORTHY
Research Scientist

Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
93 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5C9

Co-Principal Investigator

SANDRA T. CLARKE
Research Scientist

Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
93 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5C9

Co-applicant

MEHMET CAGLAR TULBEK
President

Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre
606 Beechdale Terrace Saskatoon, SK S7V 0A5, Canada

Co-applicant

JAN J. SLASKI
Principal Researcher
University of Alberta

Bio Industrial Services Division
InnoTech Alberta
Vegreville, Alberta, T9C 1T4, Canada

Objectives

The activity will focus on systematic assessment of agronomical, chemical, nutritional, and biological properties of different varieties of hempseed, and addresses cultivar selection and the effect of milling, thermal and biological processing on nutritional, functional and health promoting attributes of hemp.

 

  • To assess the agronomic and baseline nutritional qualities of hemp cultivars that are currently grown in Canada
  • To characterize and identify nutritional and bioactive compounds (phytochemicals, protein/peptides, fibre) in whole seeds or processing fractions (oils, defatted meals or hulls)
  • To evaluate nutritional quality/bioaccessibility/bioavailability of hemp protein and related nutritional attributes as well as health impacts of bioactive compounds on biomarkers related to chronic inflammation using cell culture and animal models
  • AAFC scientists will determine the impact of processing (fermentation, thermal processing) on hemp attributes and develop hempseed-based food formulations (e.g. baked goods, noodles and yogurt) for enhanced nutrition

Partners and Sponsors