Your Next Cooking Oil Could Come From Hemp
Agricultural hemp produces strong and decay-resistant fibers, a versatile oil, and requires little in the way of herbicides, since it outcompetes weeds. Hemp oil isn’t widely used for cooking, though, partially because it turns rancid swiftly if not refrigerated. Now genetic researchers have developed a new version of hemp that produces an oil similar to olive oil in terms of its fatty acid content (specifically, containing a large proportion of oleic acid), and which lasts seven times longer than the product from the unmodified plant.
The new strain was produced by using genetic techniques to disable two genes involved in the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and thus the plant produces more mono-unsaturated fats like oleic acid. This is an omega-9 fatty acid, and considered to be one of the healthier sources of fat in the diet. “The main benefit is that the oil is significantly more stable, having a longer shelf life at room temperature which extends to cooking and industrial applications,” said Ian Graham, a researcher at the University of York, in England. Read more
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