Hemp Protein: All You Need to Know
Hemp is an incredible plant. It's a member of the cannabis species, which meant that it was banned for many years. Slowly, the federal government came to realize that hemp cannot be used as a recreational drug. According to the legal definition, it contains less than 0.3% THC (according to the legal definition), which is not enough to cause intoxicating effects.
Now that the USA is planting, cultivating, and harvesting hemp, we are learning more and more about this impressive plant. For one, many users are learning about its nutritional potential. Namely, hemp is a fantastic source of plant-based protein. This article explains everything you need to know about hemp protein, so make sure you stay tuned to learn more.
The Hemp Plant Is Full of Protein
It might be hard to believe that hemp is packed full of protein. However, it may be one of the best sources of plant-based protein around. It's the seeds that are the primary source of protein, which is excellent news for manufacturers. While hemp seeds are an ideal food source, the leaves and flowers can be used for things like CBD. Finally, the stalks can be used for textiles.
Focusing on the seeds, they contain plenty of protein. Many plant-based and vegan protein powders use hemp seeds as the source, but many users also eat the seeds. You can add hemp hearts to salads, sprinkle them on smoothie bowls, and more.
Protein is an essential part of the diet because it helps the body to recover after injury, build muscle, and more. Humans usually get it from meat and fish, though there are other sources, and hemp is just one of them. As discussed in further detail later, plant-based proteins can be incredibly beneficial, but they also have other advantages.
Part of the draw to hemp seeds is the nutty flavor, which many users find enjoyable. For those who dislike the flavor, many companies add extra ingredients to hemp protein powders to make them taste like sweet treats. Anyone who leads a healthy, active lifestyle is in need of protein. So, could hemp protein be the way forward?
Amazing Facts About Hemp Protein
Compared to other plant proteins, hemp protein is a genuine powerhouse. There are lots of reasons to love the hemp plant, but its protein is one of the best. Let's investigate the benefits of hemp protein.
1. It’s a Complete Protein
A complete protein is one that possesses all nine essential amino acids. It's rare to find a plant-based source that has all nine, making hemp somewhat of a rarity in this field.
While this is excellent, it's worth noting that there are varying quantities of each amino acid. Hemp protein could have a similar amino acid profile to egg whites and soy, but it may contain low lysine levels. It means that users will need to find an alternative source of lysine.
A ¼ cup (30g) serving of hemp protein contains around 15g of protein alongside 120 calories. Compared to meat, this may not sound like a lot, but it's one of the best plant-based sources around.
2. It’s Plant-Based
For vegetarians and vegans, finding a reliable source of plant-based protein is essential. Research has indicated that plant-based proteins are a suitable replacement for animal sources, and they may also be more environmentally friendly. When it's possible to get a fantastic protein source from hemp, why use animals?
Whatever your reasons, plant-based protein is growing in popularity. Since hemp can be sustainably farmed and provide high-quality protein, this could be the protein of the future.
Compared to other plant-based proteins, like soy, hemp is much easier to grow. It can also benefit the soil, and all its parts can be used in various ways.
3. It's Easy to Digest
Research from 2010 indicates that 91-98% of the protein in ground hemp seed is digestible. This means that the body can make use of all the beneficial amino acids.
This quality of hemp protein could be due to edestin and albumin, two proteins that are very easily broken down by the human body. Along with lentils, hemp protein is a very digestible and high-quality source of plant-based proteins.
Notably, heat processing can reduce digestibility by up to 10%. As a result, you should only buy products made with cold-pressed hemp seeds.
4. Hemp Seeds Contain Other Nutrients
Alongside protein, hemp seeds are packed with other nutrients. For one, hemp is extremely high in fiber. ¼ cup of hemp protein contains 7-8g of fiber, 18% of men's and 28% of women's recommended daily intake (RDI).
In comparison, other plant-based proteins – like pea, soy, and rice – are so refined that they contain little fiber. The fiber content of hemp also means that it keeps you fuller for longer, which is ideal for those attempting to lose weight or cut out snacking.
Secondly, hemp protein contains lots of unsaturated fat – this is the 'healthy fat' that is essential for heart health. The essential fatty acids it contains include omega 3 and omega 6. The ideal ratio of these acids is 3:1, but the typical Western diet provides roughly 15:1. This could be a driver of heart disease. Luckily, hemp seeds contain the ideal 3:1 ratio.
Are There Any Risks to Eating Hemp Protein?
Hemp protein is generally safe. However, everything has a downside. High quantities of hemp protein can trigger some side effects, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is due to the high fiber content.
Secondly, there could be trace amounts of THC in hemp seeds. There is not enough to produce a high, but it does mean that there could be THC in your body. For reference, research suggests that you would need to eat more than 300g of hulled hemp seeds daily to risk flagging positive on a urinalysis. As a result, it's highly unlikely.
Taking the Right Amount of Hemp Protein
As a general rule of thumb, adults should consume 0.36g of protein per pound of body weight each day, or 0.8g per kilogram. When exercising, you may need to consume more than this to support muscle growth and repair.
For the best results, consume several tablespoons of hemp protein powder within two hours of exercising. If you aren't working out, you can take it at any time of day.
Summary on Hemp Protein and Where to Get It
Hemp protein is a fantastic source protein for vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores. It can be consumed both raw in the form of "hemp hearts," or in powder form. It's easy to cook using hemp seeds but using a protein shake can help you even more.
Many protein and supplement brands stock hemp protein powder. Take a look at brands' vegan sections to see if they stock hemp. When shopping, be sure to look for cold-pressed hemp seeds as they are less processed and therefore higher quality.