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 protein 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.

Learn all about the hemp plant here.

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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 complete 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:

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 Database, a 31 gram (g) serving of hemp protein powder contains 12 g of protein and 120 calories.

Learn more about essential amino acids here.

Hemp protein has various health benefits, including:

Easily digestible

Although humans typically digest animal protein more easily than plant protein, research indicates that individuals can readily digest 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 recommendations 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 fiber.

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 fat, most of which is healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

The polyunsaturated fatty acids in hemp protein include 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.

Learn about dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids here.

Protein powders are either plant-based or animal-based. Besides hemp protein, other popular choices include whey protein and soy protein.

The protein and calorie content in 100 g of these proteins are:

Although whey protein is high in protein, it is also an allergen. Therefore, people who are sensitive or allergic to dairy products may need to avoid this source of protein. Likewise, soy allergies are relatively common. However, typically, experts do not consider hemp an allergen, and some suggest it is suitable as an ingredient for hypoallergenic food.

Additionally, whey protein is not vegan and cannot supplement vegan diets. However, hemp and soy products are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Hemp and soy proteins derive from plants and are complete protein sources. However, people may prefer to opt for hemp as it is less processed, unlikely to trigger allergies, and is easily digested.

Learn more about suitable proteins for vegans here.

If individuals do not enjoy the taste of hemp protein, there are other ways to consume hemp seeds and benefit from its health-supporting properties, including:

  • Meals: People can sprinkle whole or ground seeds over salads, cereal, or yogurt. If they prefer a softer texture, they can add hemp seeds to soups or stews.
  • Baked goods: Ground or whole hemp seeds add interesting texture to bread, muffins, and other baked goods.
  • Hemp milk: A person can make hemp milk at home by soaking the seeds, blending, and straining. The resulting product is a high protein, plant-based milk that people can add to tea or coffee or make into smoothies or milkshakes.

Learn about some of the best plant-based protein sources.

If a person wants to increase their protein intake while reducing their use of animal products, they can find a range of alternative plant protein sources. Options include:

Although an individual can add protein powders to their daily routine to boost their intake, they should not use them in place of a nutritionally balanced diet.

People should also consider that over-consuming dietary protein can have adversely affect metabolism and gut health.

It is also worth noting that protein powders may contain various added ingredients, such as sugar or sodium, to improve their taste. People should carefully read nutritional labels if they want to avoid these additives.

Learn about the dangers of consuming too much sugar here.

Hemp protein comes from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is a rich source of fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids that the human body finds easy to digest.

A 31 g serving of hemp protein contains around 12 g of protein and 11 g of fat, depending on the source of the hemp plant and the environmental conditions it grew in.

If people prefer not to consume hemp protein, they can add hemp seeds to baked goods, soups, salads, or make hemp milk and add to drinks.

Hemp protein contains less protein than whey and soy protein. However, it is suitable for vegans, people with soy or milk allergies, and those who prefer to avoid highly processed foods.