Protein powders rank among the most sought after dietary supplements among bodybuilders, athletes and those wanting to follow a healthier diet plan. Protein powders can be manufactured from plant or animal sources. Among protein powders from plant sources, hemp protein is believed to be the best one. To understand how beneficial hemp protein is, you first need to understand what exactly are proteins and what roles they play in the human body.
An Introduction to Proteins and the Protein Cycle
The word ‘protein is derived from“protos”, a Greek word meaning “first” as these are organic compounds required for the growth and renewal of all the cells in an organism. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids and these join in various combinations to form specific proteins. A normal protein may contain over 300 amino acids. Many of these amino acids are synthesized in our body, but there are nine essential amino acids that cannot be produced by our bodies. These have to be obtained from our diet. A food source that contains all nine amino acids is called a complete protein.
The protein in the food we eat is broken down into individual amino acids during the digestion process and absorbed into the bloodstream. These amino acids are used again for rebuilding new protein structures as required by your body. This is called the protein cycle. A healthy diet that includes an adequate intake of proteins ensures that the protein cycle continues smoothly, helping us build muscle mass and strength.
What is Hemp Protein?
Hemp protein is produced from healthy and ripe hemp seeds. First, the hemp seed oil has to be extracted from the seeds by cold pressing. As a by-product of this technique, hemp cakes are formed. These hemp cakes are then milled to create hemp flour, which is a good source of dietary fiber. Sieving the hemp flour multiple times creates a fine, protein-rich powder.
A Complete Protein Source: Hemp protein is one of the few vegan sources of complete proteins as it contains all 9 essential amino acids necessary in the human diet. Though the exact proportion of amino acids in hemp is still being researched, there are studies claiming that hemp protein has an amino acid profile similar to that of soy proteins and egg whites, both of which rank among high-quality protein sources. Though the nutrient value of hemp is dependent on cannabis strains and their geographical location, hemp protein usually has about 40% protein, omega fatty acids, and fiber. Hemp protein powder also tends to be less processed than other protein powders.
Easy to Digest: Though protein sourced from animals tend to be easier to digest than plant-sourced proteins, scientists have observed that 91-98% of hemp protein is digestible. The amino acids in hemp have high bio-availability and are easily absorbed and utilized by our bodies. Researchers believe that the easy digestibility of hemp proteins is due to the presence of rapidly degradable proteins such as edestin and albumin. Since exposure to heat during its production can reduce the digestibility of hemp protein by about 10%, hemp cakes derived from cold-pressed hemp seeds are preferred for manufacturing hemp protein powders.
Has a High Proportion of Dietary Fiber: A high fiber diet helps improve digestion, balance blood sugar levels, and regular bowel movements. Hemp protein powders are good sources of dietary fiber and they have much more fiber content than other vegetable protein sources.
Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Though hemp protein powder is made from the hemp cakes that result from squeezing out hemp oil, some fats are retained in this by-product of the cold-pressing. Hemp protein powder contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids in an ideal ratio of 3:1, omega 6 and omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for health.
Offers Antioxidants and Minerals: Hemp proteins contain many minerals that are essential for our health, as well as, lignanamides, which are compounds with potent antioxidant properties that help protect us from free radical damage. A diet rich in antioxidants can help strengthen our immunity.
13 Amazing Health Benefits of Hemp Protein
Hemp protein powders are highly nutritious dietary supplements that are filled with essential amino acids, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants. All these powerful constituents make hemp protein powders much more than just a protein source for bodybuilding. Making hemp protein a regular part of your diet offers immense health benefits.
Check out these 13 amazing health benefits that make most people choose hemp protein powders over other types of protein powders.
1. Increases Energy Levels
The breakdown of fats releases much more energy in comparison to carbohydrates in foods. The fatty acid and protein content in hemp seeds are broken down slowly and they provide a steady stream of energy.
2. Strengthens the Immune System
Hemp protein powder contains edestin and albumin. These globular proteins are found in the blood plasma and are essential for the synthesis of various enzymes, hormones, antibodies, as well as, fibrinogen, a protein that is required for thickening blood.
3. Improves Muscle Regeneration
Since hemp is a complete protein that offers all 9 essential amino acids, hemp protein powder is an ideal choice for post-workout meals, for athletes and bodybuilders. These amino acids are vital for muscle repair and regeneration.
4. Increases Muscle Mass
The combination of albumin and edestin, along with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in hemp protein, helps prevent muscle loss. When used as a dietary supplement, along with regular exercise, hemp protein powders help build muscle mass faster.
5. Relieves Inflammation
Hemp protein contains an essential fatty acid known as GLA or gamma-linolenic acid which helps reduce inflammation.
6. Improves Digestion
Many people suffer from lactose intolerance, though some are more tolerant than others. The intake of protein sources with lactose can create many digestive discomforts and allergies. Hemp milk is free from common allergens such as gluten, soy, and lactose. Its high dietary fiber content also helps improve digestion
7. Promotes Heart Health
Arginine is an amino acid with antioxidant properties. Hemp has many nutrients that promote heart health, including arginine, omega-3 fatty acids, and dietary fiber.
8. Reduces Hunger
The high fiber content in hemp protein powder leaves us feeling full for longer, thus reducing hunger pangs and food cravings.
9. Cleanses the Colon
The high proportion of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber aids the natural cleansing of the colon and this helps decrease the risk of hemorrhoids, constipation, and diarrhea. Toxins also get cleared from your system.
10. Regulates Cholesterol Levels
The essential fatty acids present in hemp help reduce the levels of unhealthy fats in the body and this also decreases the plaque (cholesterol deposits) formation in your arteries.
11. Boosts Metabolism
The protein content in hemp improves metabolism and boosts weight loss, especially when combined with regular exercise. This contributes to faster muscle mass formation and strength.
12. Reduces the Risk of Osteoporosis
The deficiency of essential fatty acids (GLA and EPA) increases your risk of osteoporosis, a disease in which the quality and density of your bones decrease dramatically. The omega-3 content of hemp can help reduce bone breakdown in osteoporosis. Many studies have proven that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for skeletal health.
13. Improves Scalp Health
The essential fatty acids and vitamin E content of hemp seeds help reduce itching. Regular intake of hemp protein powder benefits scalp health as it contributes to moisturizing and strengthening your scalp.
Delicious Hemp Protein Recipes
Hemp protein powders are commonly used in protein shakes for pre-workout or post-workout meals. But there is a lot more you can do with this versatile ingredient. You can replace flour with hemp protein to make yummy pancakes and protein bars. In fact, you can substitute a portion of the flour in any baking recipe with hemp flour to make a variety of healthy and tasty treats.
Make sure to try out the following recipes for waffles and the green pudding. They are simple and easy to make at home for a nutritious meal that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Green Hemp Protein Pudding
Blend together wheatgrass powder, hemp protein, milk, and dates until smooth. Now add in chia and/or hemp seeds and blend on the lowest speed until the seeds are mixed in well. Pour this pudding mixture into your pudding dish and wait for the seeds to inflate. You may need to stir once in a while. As the pudding thickens, mix in some almond milk to adjust the consistency. Serve sprinkled with chocolate shavings or fruits of your choice.
Hemp Protein Waffles
To make the waffle batter, mix together hemp milk, hemp protein, potatoes, smoked paprika powder, and whipped egg, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat and coat the waffle pan with oil before pouring in the adequate batter. Bake for about 3 to 5 minutes.
To make the topping, mix together soybean paste, lime juice and hemp seed oil in a bowl. Add this to the chopped onions and mushrooms in a saucepan. Roast until the mushrooms brown nicely, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle this mixture on your waffles and serve with boiled and sliced eggs and sliced avocados with a drizzle of lemon juice.
With a Masters in Food Science and Nutrition, Tilottama has carved a niche for herself in the Health Writing Industry. She is passionate about helping her readers make informed decisions about the food they eat. She believes in the healing power of food and in food as medicine. Tilottama is an editor and writer at Fitnesshacks.org.