What is hemp protein powder and why is it the new health trend everyone is talking about? There are many misconceptions surrounding the wonderful plant known as hemp. Not least of which is its close relationship with marijuana. However, despite being the same species of plant, marijuana and hemp are not the same. Hemp was also largely associated with the hippy movement in the sixties but did you know that hemp is one of the oldest agricultural crops in the world?
The many, many uses for hemp are barely even touched upon. It’s been used as a fuel, for industrial production, as a textile, as insulation, paper, as bioplastic and as food. It’s also a popular health product due to the presence of the healthful cannabinoid, cannabidiol(CBD).
The rising popularity of CBD has gone some way to reducing public misperceptions about CBD. Partly due to the fact that CBD is most beneficial when taken in its most natural form. When not isolated and extracted from hemp, CBD works much better in tandem with the other useful cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes that can be found in hemp. Hemp protein powder is the newest hemp product to catch health-lovers interest. Could protein powder made from an ingredient we already know to be beneficial be the key to finding a balanced and healthful protein solution.
Hemp is not Marijuana – The Reasons
Both hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family but they are different strains of the cannabis sativa plant. The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This cannabinoid only occurs in trace amounts in hemp, usually less than 0.3%. Whereas CBD is heavily present in hemp and typically much less so in marijuana.
These amounts of THC are certainly not enough to be intoxicating and they’re legal and safe. Not only that, terpenes, flavonoids and other lesser-known cannabinoids that can be found in hemp are also thought to be incredibly healthy. Remember this is an all-natural substance that people seek out for its purported health benefits.
Nutritional Overview of Hemp Seed Protein
Hemp protein powder is ground down hemp seeds. So, let’s take a look at what they are made up of. Did you know that hemp seeds are actually nuts? These seeds are considered very nutritious. They contain 30% of fat healthy, plant-based fats. Hemp seeds contain omega-6 (linolenic acid) fatty acids and omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) fatty acids.
The first of these essential fatty acids is in poultry, eggs, nuts and lots of different plant oils. The latter is mainly in fish. We need these acids as we don’t produce them in our bodies, so we must get them from healthy, natural foods.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is another acid found in hemp. Let’s not forget all those other micronutrients found in hemp. These seeds are also full of key micronutrients. Vitamin E, potassium, fibre, magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc to name a few.
Benefits of Hemp Protein
Hemp is a natural, plant-based, whole protein. It is chock-full of amino acids, 20 in total. Protein is made from amino acids. Protein takes care of all our muscles, tissues and organs. It helps grow and repair our bodies. The reason people use it to help them train and exercise is that it burns fat and boosts the metabolism.
The fact that hemp contains all 9 amino acids is quite unusual, it even includes the rare amino acid, lysine. It has a similar protein profile to egg whites. It’s also very easy to digest which isn’t always the case with proteins. This digestibility will help the body process all of those amino acids.
The Protein found in Hemp Seeds Builds & Repairs Muscles.
The main reason people tend to take hemp is to grow, build, repair and protect muscles. Especially when exercising and training. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are also highly present in hemp protein. Leucine, isoleucine and valine are found in large quantities too, 6.8%, 4.5% and 5.6% of these essential acids respectively. Studies have indicated how important BCAAs are for muscle growth, to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, to help muscles recover and to prevent injury and pain.
Hemp Protein is Good for Your Heart
Choosing an all-natural protein is a healthier heart choice. Compared to other proteins, hemp protein might reduce your risk of heart disease. This is due to the essential omega fatty acids it has. Omega-6s fatty acids are pro-inflammatory while omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Research shows that this combination in hemp protein powder balances out inflammation. Of course, heart disease and lots of other dangerous diseases are due to chronic inflammation.
Another ingredient found in hemp seeds considered super heart-healthy is arginine. This fantastic amino acid produces nitric oxide which helps arteries relax and lowers blood pressure. All of these things contribute to great better heart health by reducing heart disease risks.
Brain Health and Functioning
The protein made from hemp seeds is also great for healthy brain function and can prevent brain diseases. How? Once again, the powerful combination of omega fatty acids and amino acids are all compounds recommended for good brain health. A protein that improves digestion and gut health.
Fibre obtained from your diet is a necessary part of good digestion. The more natural fibres you can get, the better your gut health will be. Let’s begin by outlining the two types of fibre the human body needs for good digestion and gut health. Most organic matter or plants contains a combination of both types of fibre. The difference is that soluble fibre will dissolve in water and create a liquid in your gut. This is good for gut health. It also absorbs sugar and cholesterol preventing them from entering your bloodstream.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. It bulks up your stool and is often referred to as ‘roughage’. This helps prevent constipation. Hemp seed protein is so naturally rich in fibre —80% soluble and 20% insoluble—that it cleanses the gut.
The one gripe people have with plant proteins as opposed to animal and whey protein supplements is that they’re a little harder to digest. People sometimes report feeling a drop a temporary drop in energy after plant-based protein supplements. They can also sometimes bloat people.
However, hemp protein powder is one of the easiest proteins to digest, perhaps in part due to its combination of soluble and insoluble fibre. But also because of its amino acid profile which has a similar protein profile to egg whites.
Curbs Sugar Cravings
Unlike hunger-inducing THC found in marijuana, the cannabinoids found in hemp can actually reduce your sugar cravings. Some popular proteins like rice or soy protein can be highly refined. Hemp seed protein, however, is high in dietary fibre which helps regulate glucose levels in the blood as well as keeping hunger pangs at bay.
For the Lactose or Gluten Intolerant
Unfortunately, autoimmune conditions are on the rise. The most common of these is celiac disease and lactose intolerance. Considering a lot of proteins like whey are made from animal products or perhaps contain gluten, this is not good.
Enter plant-based protein supplements. Good for the planet and good for you. So that’s why we need plant-based alternatives like hemp protein powder. It contains no dairy and no gluten and still packs a protein punch with its powerful combination of amino and fatty acids.
Hemp Protein – Planet Earth-Friendly?
We’ve covered some of the reasons why hemp protein powder is good for you. As a health-food supplement to take care of your muscles, it’s powerful. It also contains added nutritional benefits for your heart, gut and brain. So, why is hemp seed protein also a more ethical choice for planet earth than other types of protein?
Whey protein powder is one of the most commonly used protein powders and unfortunately it’s animal-derived. Plant-based foodstuffs have a much lower carbon footprint than ones made from animal products. Why? Livestock, particularly cows, are one of the biggest sources of methane pollution in the world. Also, pastoral land designed for grazing is not one of the more earth-friendly arable uses.
Hemp is actually one of the most sustainable crops on the planet. Why? Take a look at the points below:
- Hemp is regenerative, it fertilizes the soil it grows in
- It soaks up carbon from the atmosphere
- Hemp is hardy, resilient, no pesticides
- It grows in most soils and climates
Organic Hemp Seed Protein
Most hemp is grown sustainably to some degree. It’s a naturally sustainable crop. However, organic certification means that the hemp your protein powder is made from has been certified as eco-friendly.
Organic farmers cannot use fertilisers and pesticides to cultivate their crop. So, no toxin-riddled hemp products for you. That means added health assurance and benefits.
Although any hemp powder, sustainably grown or not, contains lots of health-boosting compounds, vitamins and minerals. Organic certification means those extra vitamins and minerals you’re looking for from hemp will be pure and healthful.
As the hemp plant has resurged in popularity it has captured people's imaginations. The myriad health benefits and many ways in which hemp can be used accounts for this. Other hemp health food products like hemp oil, hemp milk and even hemp-based cheeses are paving the way for growth in the hemp food market.
Hemp protein powder is the latest in a long list of healthy and ethical products made with this wonderful crop. No longer is this food product relegated to hippies and health food shops. It's a mainstream product that people know improves their health.
Add in the sustainability factor and we could see a real boom in this industry. As we search for more healthy, sustainable foods and sustainable production models–we predict that hemp is here to stay. Hemp protein powder, with all its nutrients and its incredible protein profile, is the way forward.