Victorian Institute of Sport

Nutrition Tip | Hemp Seeds

Monday, 14 May 2018

You may be aware that hemp seeds have recently been made legal for consumption in Australia by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). Hemp seeds are fast gaining popularity particularly because of their protein content and polyunsaturated fat profile (predominantly omega 3 and omega 6 fats). However, it is not a complete source of protein as it is low in lysine and leucine which are important for activating muscle building post-training. So, before you get excited about this food product, there are a few extra things to be aware of. 

Hemp seeds are produced from the stem and leaves of the marijuana plant, where the psychoactive component – known as tetrahydracannabinol (THC) is generally low, and must be less than 0.5%. Under these circumstances, it is considered safe for human consumption. However, the regulation of the production of hemp seeds is not well standardised, meaning some manufacturers may be less careful and use other parts of the marijuana plant where levels of THC may be higher. While cannabidiol is no longer prohibited by WADA, the cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may contain varying levels of THC – and THC is prohibited by WADA.

Since THC is prohibited by WADA, athletes need to be aware that the hemp seeds they consume may contain varying levels of THC especially if manufacturers are not careful with their production methods. Due to the risk and the potential for a drug test to return positive, it is recommended that athletes do not consume hemp seeds.

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