Hemp seeds are a plant-based source of complete protein that provides a range of nutrients.
It is an excellent option for individuals who want to add more protein to their diet while avoiding animal products.
Hemp proteinTrusted Source comes from the hemp plant, which is the same species as the cannabis plant. However, unlike cannabis, hemp contains only traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the intoxicating compound that creates a high.
Hemp is the source of cannabidiol or CBD oil, but its seeds are also a rich source of plant-based protein. Manufacturers make hemp powder by grinding hemp seeds into a fine, earthy tasting powder.
This article looks at hemp protein, its nutrition, and its health benefits. It also compares hemp protein to other protein powders and looks at alternative plant protein sources.
Hemp protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that the human body needs but cannot produce. Therefore, an individual must include these amino acids in their diet.
Some experts claim that hemp seed is one of the most nutritionally completeTrusted Source food sources. People can consume hemp seeds either whole or without the hull or in various hempseed products, such as oil, flour, and protein powder.
Studies have found that the nutritional value of hemp seed varies considerably according to the environment it grew in and what specific plant type it is. However, typically, its nutritional profile contains:
- 25–35% fats
- 20–30% carbohydrates
- 20–25% proteins
The most abundant protein in hemp seed is edestin, making up around 82% of total hemp protein content. Albumin makes up around 13% of the total protein, while β-conglycinin constitutes up to 5% of the total.
Together, these proteins contain the nine essential amino acids. The most abundant is glutamic acid, followed by arginine. Hemp protein has more sulfur-containing amino acids, such as methionine, cysteine, and homocysteine, than soy protein and milk protein casein.
Hemp protein also contains higher levels of amino acids than soy protein, except for aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and lysine. Lysine is the primary shortfall in hemp proteins.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient DatabaseTrusted Source, a 31 gram (g) serving of hemp protein powder contains 12 g of protein and 120 calories.
Hemp protein has various health benefits, including:
Although humans typically digest animal protein more easily than plant protein, research indicates that individuals can readily digestTrusted Source hemp protein.
This may be because hemp protein is high in edistin and albumin, which the body can digest easily. The body breaks down these foods and uses a large proportion of the amino acids in various processes, such as tissue repair and cell maintenance.
When hemp protein undergoes heat treatment, it becomes even more digestible.
Learn about the differences between plant and animal protein here.
A great source of fiber
Eating enough dietary fiber supports digestive health and reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Consumption recommendationsTrusted Source range from 19–38g a day, depending on someone’s gender and age. However, around 95% of people in the United States do not consume anywhere near this amount of fiber.
Individuals might consider adding hemp protein to their diets to improve their fiber intake, as a 31 g serving contains around 11 g of fiberTrusted Source.
Learn more about the importance of dietary fiber in the diet here.
Contains healthy fats
Hemp protein contains unsaturated fats. A 31g serving contains around 2g of fatTrusted Source, most of which is healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
The polyunsaturated fatty acids in hemp protein includeTrusted Source linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). The body cannot synthesize these fatty acids, so they must come from a diet resource.
Omega fatty acids are essential for health as they help maintain cell membranes, contribute to heart health, and regulate inflammation and metabolic processes.