Hemp’s protein and low GI benefits gaining popularity from vegans and older consumers – India’s Cure By Design

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A picture showing two spoons of hemp seeds. © Getty Images
A picture showing two spoons of hemp seeds. © Getty Images

Related tags India

Hemp food and beverages are seeing support from vegans, vegetarians, and older consumers for its protein and low glycaemic index (GI) benefits, says Indian firm Cure By Design.

The Bangalore-based Cure By Design specialises in producing both hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) oral capsules, tinctures, topical balms, and transdermal patches for both humans and pets.

Founder Daanish Matheen told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that sales of the company’s hemp food products have been growing at a yearly average of 45 per cent.

According to Matheen, most of the repeat purchases came from consumers who are vegans or vegetarians. Protein powder made from hemp seeds has become one of the firm’s bestsellers.

“Our hemp food and human use medicinal CBD sales have witnessed strong year-on-year growth. The food range being older has grown on an average of 45 per cent annually,” ​said Matheen.

Aside from consuming hemp as a source of protein, hemp has also gained a following among consumers who are conscious about their blood glucose level.

He said that the firm’s hemp flour was popular with the older adults because they saw it as a diabetic-friendly food. Some consumers replace conventional flour with hemp flour to bake bread, roti, or pasta.

“A lot of older people are buying hemp flour as well as it helps with type II diabetes. There are also clinics that prescribe hemp flour for diabetes,” ​he said.

He explained that hemp seeds, which were grind into hemp flour, were rich in omega 6, which was anti-inflammatory.

Findings of an animal study​ published in July showed that hemp seeds consumption could significantly reduce glucose and cholesterol concentrations in mice.

Jayanti Bhattacharya, co-founder of India Hemp and Co., also believes that as the number of industry players grow, hemp product innovation in India would surround its diabetic-friendly status.

The contestant of Shark Tank India Season 1 explained that this was because hemp was low in GI and hence suitable for the diabetic market.

So far, the company has made noodles and vermicelli from hemp and millets, as well as chocolates and snacks from hemp.

India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) legalised the use of hemp seeds for food in late 2021.

“Seeds, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed flour shall be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming to standards, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and cannabidiol limits,” the FSSAI said back then.

However, not all Indian states are allowed to grow hemp seeds and leaves. For example, companies using hemp seeds would need to source it from Uttarakhand.

Previously, the use of hemp was regulated by the AYUSH ministry solely.

Hemp in kombucha

On top of its protein and low GI benefits, India Hemp and Co recently put a spin on hemp category by adding it to kombucha.

The Bangalore firm launched a ready-to-drink 250ml canned beverage marketed as HempBoocha two months ago.

Aside from hemp seeds, the product contains kombucha made from hibiscus flowers, strawberries, and lemon.

Sold at 260 rupees, the product claims to be packed with antioxidants and probiotics that improve gut health on its packaging.

Asked the reason for the launch, Bhattacharya said the product was meant to provide a convenient and nutritional option.

“We saw a gap in the market and understood that we could add more nutrition value to a 'naturally healthy' beverage, which is kombucha in this case.

“We want to give people the option to switch to healthier drinks and our Hempboocha is in a metal can and is easy to carry around and store as well,” ​she said.

Earlier, a hemp food brand from Australia​ has also developed a hemp kombucha beverage which it claimed could lower blood sugar levels and reduce the symptoms of type II diabetes. 

What more with hemp?

Next year, Cure By Design is looking at introducing granolas and protein bars made from hemp seeds into its portfolio, according to Matheen.

This will add to its existing range of hemp flour, hemp protein powder, hemp seed oil, full and toasted hemp seed, and hulled hemp seeds.

As for medicinal CBD for human use, Matheen said there were plans to introduce classical Ayurvedic formulations recorded in the religious text Vedas.

“With regard to the CBD, we have just launched in June, and it is very new, but we have seen a growing demand month on month to an average of 12 per cent,”​ he said.

The company’s hemp food products are manufactured in facilities located in Bangalore and its medicinal CBD products made in Madhya Pradesh.

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