What You Need To Know About CBD In Food Products

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What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, comes from the cannabis sativa plant. The plant’s two most well-known compounds are CBD and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the intoxicating component found in marijuana that gives you the “high” feeling, while CBD is the non-intoxicating compound associated with health benefits (sorry, but you’re not going to get “high” from this one).

Because of this, we’ve started seeing CBD in many food products such as beverages, supplements, gummies, chocolate, and other edibles. CBD is also found in a variety of beauty products like topical creams and, most commonly, as an oil.

Health effects of CBD

Research on the health benefits of CBD continues to emerge. The FDA claims there is limited data on the safety of CBD and its products. This means CBD could have these benefits or it might not.

Studies have shown CBD oil can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost mood (especially in those suffering from depression), alleviate nausea, relieve muscle and joint pain, improve sleep quality, and possibly even help lessen the symptoms associated with most cancers.

CBD is an antioxidant and lends a helping hand to your body’s endocannabinoid system (a connection between the brain, endocrine, and immune tissues).

That’s a fancy way of saying CBD can help balance out the circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems which may lead to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders, digestive disorders, and diabetes.

The rise of CBD in food products

Drink up! Let’s take an inside look at CBD-infused beverages as they are some of the most popular CBD goods on the market. Manufacturers use a CBD isolate because it’s easier to control the dose and less expensive (although a 16-ounce CBD water can still be up to $7 a bottle). But, the isolate doesn’t have as much of an effect compared to full-spectrum CBD products.

In other words, you’ll have to chug quite a few drinks to feel the calming effects of CBD. Because of this, manufacturers often add other supplemental components, like L-theanine, to create a sense of calm.

It’s also important to note that manufacturers are playing around with how to incorporate CBD into water to enhance its bioavailability.

One study stated that at least 90% of the particles in CBD drinks aren’t able to cross the blood-brain barrier or be used by the cells.

So before paying an arm and a leg for a CBD-infused beverage, try relaxing with a cup of chamomile tea or adding magnesium into your evening routine. Dark chocolate, fresh dates, avocado, almonds, and leafy greens are all great sources of magnesium that helps to relax the mind and the muscles.

Be cautious

Just like most drugs and supplements, there are possible side effects with what might seem like a good thing. One major caution is that CBD can interact with other drugs and medications like blood thinners, cholesterol and blood pressure meds, and those prescribed for personality disorders.

Because the long-term research of CBD oil is still lacking, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics made its stance on CBD in Food and Beverage Products claiming that consumers should “use caution when purchasing and consuming products and food items that contain cannabidiol.”

According to the FDA, most CBD products are on the market with unproven medical claims. The 2018 Farm Bill made the growing and manufacturing of hemp products legal. But, CBD is technically still an unapproved food additive according to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (even though seven U.S. states have approved the sale of CBD products as of 3/2020).

Regulators understand the sale of CBD products is happening under their noses which is why they are continually trying to keep the public informed as more research on CBD emerges.

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Actionable Steps


Do you need CBD?

You may consider talking to your doctor if you’re experiencing chronic stress or anxiety, insomnia, chronic joint or muscle pain, mood disorders, or symptoms from major diseases or cancer and other methods of relief have not helped.


Choose your method of CBD

While food products like teas, gummies, and chocolate may be a preferred method of consuming CBD, other products like CBD oil and creams may also provide health benefits. Drinks provide between 10 and 25 mg of CBD per serving while oils, soft gels, and creams have a variety of concentrations and recommended doses, allowing you to easily adjust based on your needs.

When consuming CBD food or beverage products, it’s best to pair them with a healthy fat because CBD is a fat-soluble nutrient. Try pairing the product while snacking on trail mix, nut butter and crackers, or avocado toast.


Do your research before purchasing CBD in food

When choosing to use CBD products, be sure you’re using organic and lab-tested products to ensure safety. Marketing claims can be very misleading with over 70% of online CBD products being mislabeled according to a study at the University of Pennsylvania.

Talk with a dietitian or your health care provider to choose the best product and understand the right dosage for you and your health goals. Read more on How to Choose the Right CBD from Dr. Taz, M.D.


Proceed with caution

As mentioned above, research is still scarce and inconclusive on the benefits and side effects of using CBD. Always consult with your healthcare team before making any major changes, especially if taking other medications.


Consider other healthy habits first

Consider engaging in other healthy habits first to help mitigate any health concerns. For example, if you suffer from chronic stress and anxiety, try starting a mediation practice, engaging in regular physical activity, or talking to a professional therapist. Chomping down on CBD might be a last resort.


Read the longer version

Learn from Registered Dietitian McKel Kooienga What is CBD Oil. Read A Dietitian’s Guide to the Cannabis Items in Grocery Stores by Christy Brisette, MS, RD. See how Janice Bissex, MS, RDN answers the FAQs on hemp and CBD products. Listen to CBD Supplementation with Registered Dietitian Macie Kurelia on The Nutrition Awareness podcast. Get the know with CBD 101 by Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.

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About the Author

shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching

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