What Is Hemp Oil?

Buying, Using, and Recipes

Hemp Oil

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In terms of popularity, hemp seed oil might not be on the same level as olive oil or even coconut oil, but that could be due to the confusion that surrounds the product. Hemp seed oil has both culinary and beauty applications, but in the kitchen, it's recognized for unusually high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, called the omegas. It does not, however, contain THC, the substance in marijuana responsible for producing the "high."

What Is Hemp Oil?

Most hemp seed oil is raw (made from raw hemp seeds), cold-pressed, and unrefined. Too delicate to handle any heat, it makes a flavorful finishing oil for lightly drizzling on soups or entrées. The translucent green color and common but erroneous association with marijuana might be off-putting at first, but hemp seed oil adds both rich flavor and beneficial fatty acids.

How to Use Hemp Oil

Hemp seed oil is darker and more intense than the neutral oils you might be used to, such as vegetable oil. It also has a low smoke point, which means it starts to burn at a low temperature, which negatively affects the flavor. In other words, hemp seed oil does not make a good choice for frying.

Hemp seed oil is perfect for being drizzled on rice or grain salads such as tabbouleh, used as a dip for toast points, or as part of a blended sauce such as a vinaigrette, hemp pesto, or even homemade mayonnaise. Add a small amount to a smoothie or drizzle it on top of hummus, a plate of pasta, roasted vegetables, or a bowl of soup.

What Does It Taste Like?

Hemp seed oil tastes a bit like walnuts or sunflower seeds, making it ideal for use in salad dressings or as a bread dip. However, because of the strong flavor, hemp seed oil is not suitable for anything sweet or delicate that might get overpowered. You might want to mix it with a milder oil in a sweet salad dressing such as a raspberry vinaigrette.

Recipes With Hemp Oil

Hemp seed oil is not heat stable, so it's best used in uncooked applications.

Where to Buy Hemp Oil

Well-stocked grocery stores in the United States, including some of the big-box discount chains, should carry at least one brand of cold-pressed hemp seed oil; you may find it on the shelf with the other cooking oils or with the refrigerated health food products. Natural food stores also stock it and you can order it online. Refined hemp seed oil doesn't make a good choice for the kitchen; it loses most of the nutritional value, along with its flavor and color, during processing.

Storage

Once opened, hemp seed oil needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and should be used within three months. Unopened hemp seed oil can be kept in the pantry; refer to the "best by" date on the package for the shelf life.

Nutrition and Benefits

Along with hemp seeds and hemp protein, hemp seed oil is a way to get the benefits of this superfood. Advocates of cooking with hemp seed oil point to the seed's rich omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids content, which contribute to the health of cell membranes and skin, hair, and nails; help reduce inflammation; and improve heart health, among other benefits. Hemp seed oil has a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, matching the balance required by the human body for optimal health, and one tablespoon provides the recommended daily requirement. It's a source of vitamins A and E, and, at 5 to 7 percent, low in saturated fat compared with many other culinary oils. A 1-tablespoon serving contains about 125 calories.

Myths

Usually referred to as hemp seed oil, but sometimes called cannabis sativa seed oil or just plain hemp oil, this product is different than CBD oil, a product most often used medicinally or therapeutically. It comes from the flowers or stems of the cannabis plant and contains cannabinoids, sometimes including THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana's effect. Standard hemp seed oil is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds and has no psychoactive properties. You cannot get high from consuming it.