Protein powders are a very popular dietary supplement among athletes, bodybuilders and those who are looking to gain weight or muscle mass.
Proteins and protein powders can be of plant or animal origin. Did you know that hemp protein is considered one of the best and complete sources of plant protein? In the article below, we will explain everything about hemp protein powder benefits, make some comparisons and of course, we’ll talk about proteins in general.
What is protein?
The word protein originates from the Greek word “protos” (πρῶτος), which means “first”. Proteins are organic compounds called polyamides – essential elements necessary for the growth and renewal of the structure (bodies) of all cells of an organism.
Proteins consist of amino acids that are structurally related. A normal protein usually contains as many as 300 or more amino acids. The very structure of amino acids and molecules determines what role protein plays in our bodies. There are usually about 20 different amino acids in animal and vegetable proteins.
Proteins are constantly synthesized and released in our bodies. After a meal, proteins are broken down into amino acids during digestion, which are then absorbed into the body and help to produce different types of proteins in the body. Adequate daily intake of proteins and energy ensures a smooth protein cycle.
How Are Hemp Proteins Made?
The production of hemp protein requires an abundance of healthy and ripe hemp seeds. Hemp seed oil is first extracted from the seeds by cold pressing and hemp cake is obtained as a by-product. The hemp cake is then sieved several times. If the cake is only “roughly” sown, it produces hemp flour, which is rich in dietary fibre, most of which is retained in the seed shells.
Further high granulation sieving removes larger particles of hemp seed shells which leaves much more protein-rich particles that are found inside the seeds (hemp hearts). Thus, hemp protein powder is obtained.
Hemp protein benefits
Complete protein source
Hemp and hemp products are considered to be a high quality vegan source of complete protein. Complete proteins are the ones that contain all 9 essential amino acids that are necessary for the proper functioning of the human body:
Although the results of studies on the exact content of amino acids have been mixed, one study said that hemp proteins have a similar amino acid profile as egg white and soy, which are among high-quality protein sources. Other studies state that hemp protein powder has a lower protein content than soy.
So, what to believe? Hemp protein is usually less processed than other proteins and typically contain about 40% protein, slightly less fibre and omega fatty acids. In any case, the protein and other beneficial compounds are also highly dependent on cannabis strains and geographical location.
Easy to digest
Generally speaking, proteins of animal origin are easier to digest than plant proteins. Researchers have found that about 91-98% of hemp protein is digestible. This means that our body can utilize virtually any amino acid found in hemp protein, which is crucial for maintaining and improving our body’s functionality.
Scientists attribute the digestibility of hemp proteins primarily to edestin and albumin, rapidly degradable proteins. They also found that the digestibility of hemp protein can be reduced by about 10% when exposed to heat while processing them. Because of this reason, the use of hemp proteins made from hemp cake that is obtained from cold-pressed hemp seeds is recommended.
High proportion of dietary fibre
A diet that is high in dietary fibre can help improve blood sugar levels, better digestion, maintains bowel health, etc. The recommended daily intake of dietary fibre for women is 25 grams and 38 grams for men, but these recommendations are rarely followed.
With hemp protein, we can “kill two birds with one stone” as they are considered to be an excellent source of protein and a good source of dietary fibre (they contain much more dietary fibre than any vegetable protein).
Omega fatty acids
As we mentioned before, hemp protein is produced by the fine sowing of hemp cake – the by-product of cold pressing hemp seeds. Despite the oil being squeezed (cold-pressed) out of the seeds, some of the fats still remain in the hemp cake. Unlike the typical diet, which usually contains a very unbalanced ratio of omega fatty acids, the hemp protein powder has the ideal ratio (3:1) of omega fatty acids (omega 6 & omega 3) for humans, and are of great importance for heart health.
Minerals and antioxidants
Hemp proteins contain compounds called lignanamides, which have potent antioxidant properties and help protect our bodies. They also contain numerous minerals – inorganic substances, crucial for the harmonious functioning of the body.
- Copper – crucial for brain development and intercellular communication, iron metabolization and oxygen supply
- Zinc – stimulates the immune system, assists protein, fats and carbohydrates metabolization, and fastens wound healing
- Phosphorus – promotes bone development, tissue growth and regeneration, and cell fluid balance
- Calcium – responsible for bone development and normal heart functioning, maintains healthy blood pressure and prevents the formation of clots
- Potassium – promotes heart health and body balance
- Magnesium – activates B vitamins, mineralizes bones and promotes potassium and calcium absorption
- Manganese – ensures proper brain functioning and participates in the formation of bone, tissue and reproductive hormones
- Iron – crucial for the formation of amino acids, hormones, cells, neurotransmitters and is one of the main components of hemoglobin and myoglobin (hemeprotein)
Why should you consume hemp protein?
Protein, dietary fibre, essential fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants – when combined all together and when we take the easy digestibility into account, hemp protein or hemp protein powder with many beneficial effects is obtained.
Hemp protein benefits:
- They boost the immune system – globular proteins (edestin and albumin) are an integral part of enzymes, antibodies, hormones, fibrinogen (a blood thickening protein) and are also found in the blood plasma.
- Increase energy – essential fatty acids produce twice as much energy as carbohydrates and break down proteins more slowly, which means that energy is released more slowly and over time.
- Anti-inflammatory – GLA or gamma-linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid that, along with other nutrients of hemp proteins, helps us relieve inflammation.
- They improve digestion – the vast majority of proteins contain lactose, whether animal or vegetable. However, since all humans have lactose intolerance (some are more tolerant than others), consuming proteins can cause some digestive disorders. Due to the high proportion of dietary fibre in hemp protein, hemp protein powder has a beneficial effect on digestion.
- Improve muscle regeneration – everyone knows that muscle regeneration is essential after sports and recreation. Protein powders are usually the first decision of many athletes, after all, proteins are crucial for “building” muscle mass. Because hemp proteins are complete proteins (contain all 9 essential amino acids) and are non-allergenic, they are more than just a good substitute for regular protein powders and are also great for people suffering from different kinds of allergies.
- They promote heart health – heart disease is the most common cause of death. When arginine (an antioxidant), dietary fibre and fatty acids are combined together, we get a cluster of nutrients that reduce the chance of heart disease.
- Increases muscle mass – BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids that metabolize in skeletal muscle and, together with albumin and edestin prevent muscle “loss” and with regular exercise, help increase muscle mass faster.
- They reduce hunger – foods low in dietary fibre can give us the feeling of fullness, but only for a short time. Because hemp protein is rich in dietary fibre, satiety is significantly prolonged.
- Cleans the colon – a high proportion of dietary fibre (soluble and insoluble) helps the natural cleansing of the colon and can reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, diarrhoea, constipation, and also helps to clear toxins from the body.
- Improve metabolism – Optimal protein intake is crucial for weight loss and improved metabolism, which also contributes to faster fat loss and muscle mass formation.
- They regulate cholesterol levels – with the help of essential fatty acids, the level of unhealthy fats in our body decreases and the formation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries is also decreased.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis – essential fatty acids play an important role in many processes, including the prevention of osteoporosis, which is often the result of essential fatty acids (GLA and EPA) deficiency.
- Improved scalp health – Vitamin E and essential fatty acid content can help reduce itching, irritation and contribute to proper moisturizing and stronger scalp.
As we have noticed, hemp protein is a complete protein full of antioxidants, minerals, dietary fiber, essential fatty acids and of course protein. Although the protein content may be lower than that of many protein powders, the content of the remaining beneficial ingredients is what makes many people choose to use hemp protein powder.
Protein drinks are the most common use of proteins, but hemp protein powder can also be used to make protein pancakes (hemp protein is replaced with flour), protein bars, or they can be used as a substitute for the part of the flour content in the preparation of various bakery products or we can simply prepare a protein shake.
Hemp protein powder recipes
Hemp protein smoothie for improved digestion
1 ripe pear
1,5 cups of water
mint (as desired)
1 tablespoon of hemp protein
Peel the bananas and cut them into small pieces together with the pear. Place all of the ingredients in a blender, mix well and serve.
Antioxidant Hemp protein powder Smoothie:
1 cup of red grapes
2 walnut kernels
1.5 cups of water
half a handful of spinach leaves
half a handful of basil leaves
1 tablespoon of hemp protein
Put all the ingredients in a blender, mix well and the beverage is ready to serve.
Hemp protein waffles:
250g of peeled and steamed sweet potatoes
1 stirred (whipped) egg
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika powder
2 tablespoons of plain or hemp milk
3 tablespoons of hemp protein
2 coarsely chopped onions
150g champignon (common) mushrooms sliced into thin slices
1 tablespoon of soy paste
1 tablespoon of hemp seed oil
1 sliced avocado
First mix the potatoes, whipped egg, smoked paprika powder, hemp milk, hemp protein, add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well in a bowl or “crush” with a fork.
Heat the waffle pan (if you don’t have one, you can use a normal pan) and lightly coat with hemp oil (the pan usually heats up, so using a suitable oil with a higher smoke point is recommended). The mixture is then poured in a pan and baked for about 3-5 minutes. In the meantime, put the eggs in boiling water for 6-7 minutes. Mix the soybean paste, half of the lime juice and hemp seed oil into a bowl, mix well together and add to the saucepan with onion and mushrooms. Roast for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are nicely browned.
The waffles should be served hot. Peel and slice the eggs, sprinkle the onions and mushrooms over the waffles, drizzle the avocado with the remaining half of the lime juice and serve it all together as a delicious afternoon snack.
Green hemp protein pudding:
2 cups of almond milk
2 dates (without seeds)
1.5 tablespoons of wheat grass powder (can be replaced by any other green vegetable powder)
3 tablespoons of hemp protein
6 tablespoons chia seeds (can be replaced with hemp hearts)
Mix the milk, dates and powders (wheatgrass powder and hemp protein) together in a blender until the mixture is smooth. Chia (or hemp) seeds are then added. Put the blender to the lowest speed and stir until the seeds are “blended” with the mixture.
Then put the pudding in the pans and wait for a while until the seeds inflate. Stir occasionally and, if necessary – to the extent that the mixture becomes thick – add some almond milk.
The pudding is now prepared and is sufficient for 2-4 portions, and if desired, it can also be sprinkled with fruits, chocolate or other sweeteners.
Author: L. O.