Benefits of Hemp Protein for a Healthier You
Hemp is one of the most controversial plants mainly due to a misunderstanding relating to its origin. However, what most people don't understand is that hemp doesn't contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis.
This simply means that it is non-psychoactive thus can't get you high (Source). In fact, it contains several essential nutrients. One of these nutrients is a protein which has lately become very popular among those people wanting to improve their health.
The hemp plant produces shelled seeds known as "hemp hearts" and hemp protein is made by grinding these seeds into a fine powder. In his article, we are going to look at its various health benefits and whether it is the best plant-based protein.
Uses Of Hemp
Typically known for its relationship to mary-jane, hemps other important uses are often forgotten. Hemp fiber lasts twice as long as cotton, is stronger and softer too. It can also be used to produce tissue, cardboard, paper, fiberboard, plastic alternatives, bio-oils, seeds, and yes, protein.
What are protein powders?
Firstly, what are protein powders? They are nutritional supplements taken by athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone else generally topping up their protein intake typically with the aim to maintain or grow their muscle mass.
Protein powders come in a variety of forms, the most well known being whey - we've discussed this at length on our article on MyProteins Clear Whey Isolate
How do you make hemp protein?
Hemp protein has gained popularity in recent years due to the growing number of benefits and because it doesn't come from a cow - vegans love it! The hemp protein-making process is simple.
Hemp protein is made by extracting the oil from hemp seeds, the remaining seed meal is then processed to make the powder.
Is Hemp Illegal?
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 questionable controls every form of cannabis as an illegal drug, it is illegal to grow. However, it is still legal to import hemp products so long as it contains very low levels of THC.
The Agricultural Act of 2014 has made it so that some states have the power to raise hemp for research, commercial, and industrial purposes. That being said, commercial production is still out of the question in most places.
5 Nutritional Health Benefits of Hemp Protein
Hemp protein has a good number of nutritional benefits. These seeds are full of nutritious compounds which include:
1) A Complete Protein
Protein foods can be classified as incomplete, partial, or complete proteins. Hemp is considered a complete protein since it contains all the nine essential amino acids that the body requires from food.
This makes it a very good alternative protein source for vegans and vegetarians. In just a quarter or 30-gram serving of hemp protein powder, you will get 120-calories and 15-grams of protein.
Hemp is a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids - each serving contains around 15g of protein
2) A Good Source of Fiber
Hemp protein is also very high in fiber and contains about 8-grams of fiber in a quarter cup or 30-grams. This provides you with up to 28-percent of your daily recommended fiber intake which is much higher compared to other plant-based proteins.
High-fiber diets like hemp protein are often linked to many health benefits such as the reduced risk of bowel cancer, improved blood sugar level, and healthier gut bacteria.
Hemp is a great source of fiber, more so than whey.
3) Hemp Has Unsaturated Fats
Unlike dairy products and red meat, hemp is very low in saturated fats. What's more is that it contains all the essential fatty acids, the omega-3 (related article), and the omega-6 in a ratio that is three-to-one which is very optimum for the body.
According to studies (Source), eating an optimum ratio of these essential fatty acids is associated with reduced risk of dementia, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular problems, and some types of cancers.
Although slightly higher in calories, this is due to a higher good fat content such as Omega 3 and Omega 6.
4) Rich in Minerals and Antioxidants
Hemp protein is a very rich source of minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper. It also contains antioxidants that can protect your body from oxidative damage that is normally linked to diabetes, heart diseases, and chronic illnesses.
By just taking a serving of hemp protein products, you can get up to 5 per cent of the RDI for iron and 80 per cent for magnesium.
Hemp contains rich sources of minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc.
5) Hemp is Easy to Digest
Animal proteins have often been easily digested compared to plant proteins. However, research (Source) shows that when hemp is ground, up to 98 per cent of the protein is digestible.
This means that when you consume hemp, your body will absorb and use almost all the amino acids in it. Additionally, hemp contains the proteins albumin and edestin which the body can break down very quickly thus making it highly absorbable.
Hemp is much easier to digest than animal proteins. Cold-pressed hemp has is better quality.
How Does Hemp Protein Compare To Other Proteins?
Given that the production of whey globally is set to see an increase of 54% from 2017 to 2023 - it's fair to say that whey protein has a stronghold in the market.
Whey protein is one of the most researched protein powders in the market, it's revered for its high nutritional value and easy digestibility. It provides all 9 essential amino acids, which also include the all anabolic leucine, valine, and isoleucine.
In 2017, Food and Function announced that the use of whey protein may provide relief from some digestive disorders as well as stimulating the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
The majority of those who are making the decision to move to a plant-based protein source are doing so because of their eating choices such as vegetarians and vegans.
Additionally, those who are looking to move away from dairy or hyper allergic to lactose find that plant-based protein powders are more suitable for their lifestyle. Hemp protein also contains all 9 essential amino acids, however, it has a slower digestion rate which can also substitute for casein (slow digesting) protein sources.
Whey Protein vs Hemp Protein
20 grams of carbs
20 grams of protein
0 grams of fat
9 percent of the RDA of calcium
7 grams of carbs
12.6 grams of protein
3.4 grams of fat
15 per cent of the RDA of calcium
23 per cent of the RDA of iron
4.8 grams of fiber
The choice is ultimately up to you. Whey protein has a long history of research with thousands of studies that prove it's the ability to reduce body fat (Source), stimulate the growth of muscle, and improve blood lipids.
It's easy to find formulas that are lactose-free these days - which is a bonus for those sneaky 'dairy-phobics'. Although hemp is slightly lower in protein, it makes up for it in micronutrients and has more fiber, more calcium, iron, and good fats.
Putting It All Together
Overall, hemp protein is an incredibly healthy protein that is also very rich in fiber, healthy fats, and several mineral salts.
Although it may be a little less nutritious when compared to other protein sources like whole eggs or fish, it is a good choice if you are looking for a vegan complete protein with enough amounts of fiber and healthy fats.
The best part is that it is highly water-soluble which means it perfectly blends into a wide variety of foods and drinks.