Protein powders are a popular nutritional supplement used by athletes and those trying to control weight or increase muscle mass. Hemp protein powder is one of the most popular choice, made by grinding hemp seeds into a fine green powder.
It has a nutty taste and is often added to desserts, salads or smoothies to boost protein quantity in food. Hemp is a high-quality protein and also vegan, containing all essential amino acids, plus fibre, healthy fats and minerals. So let’s dig deeper what is inside hemp protein that is so useful for us.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), is widely cultivated across the world, a by-product obtained during the commercial utilization of the plant fibre contains over 30% oil and 25% of high-quality protein. Hemp seed, which contains a low level (*0.3%) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is now legally grown in many European countries. Also, hemp seed has been documented as a source of food throughout history – raw, roasted or cooked, and hemp seed oil has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3000 years. (1)
Amino acids of hemp protein
In the table below you can see all the amino acids which have a potato, wheat, maize, rice, soybean, hempseed, rapeseed, egg white, whey powder.
The two central amino acids in hemp seed are edestin and albumin. Both of these high-quality storage proteins are easily digested and contain nutritionally significant amounts of all essential amino acids. Also, hemp seed has exceptionally high levels of the amino acid arginine. That’s why hemp seed has been used to treat various disorders for thousands of years in traditional oriental medicine. (2)
Comparing with egg proteins and soybean proteins
In the diagram below you can see amino acids comparison between soybean protein, hemp seed protein and egg white protein. (3)
A comparison of protein amino acid from egg white, hemp seed and soybean shows that hemp seed protein is comparable to these other high-quality proteins. Hemp seed protein has good amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine (4) in addition to very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid. As an industrial source of vegetable nutrition, both hemp seed and hempseed meals are rich sources of protein and polyunsaturated oils.
Vitamins and minerals of hemp seed protein
Hemp seed protein is a rich source of minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and copper. Because of all the nutritional benefits, it’s hard to understand why it is still not used daily.
Also, these seeds contain compounds called lignanamides which have strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage, which has been linked to chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Eating food with antioxidants is good for everybodies health.
Adults need at least 0.8 grams per kg of body weight, every day (5). For example, a 68.2 kg adult, this equates to 55 grams of protein per day.
Although, people who exercise need more protein to maintain their muscle mass.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that regularly active people eat 0.64–0.9 grams per 1.4–2.0 grams per kg of body weight, per day (6).
While whole foods have to make up the bulk of the protein in your diet, supplementing with hemp protein powder can be a good additional protein source.
International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise by Jäger, Kerksick, Campbell, Cribb, Wells, Skwiat, Purpura, Ziegenfuss, Ferrando, Arent, Smith-Ryan, Stout, Arciero, Ormsbee, Taylor, Wilborn, Kalman, Kreider, Willoughby, Hoffman, Krzykowski, Antonio.