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The Difference Between Hemp Seeds and Hemp Protein Powder

The Difference Between Hemp Seeds and Hemp Protein Powder

Alright guys, the time has come for me to discuss an issue that has been confusing health-conscious vegans everywhere. Today, I will be exploring the nitty gritty deets (how’s that for a relevant pun?) behind hemp seeds and hemp protein powder .

Far too often, I hear from potential clients seeking vegan meal plans that don’t contain any soy. I’m all for a whole foods approach to eating but when we’re talking about a vegan competition prep diet or simply building muscle on a vegan diet , truth is, our protein options are somewhat limited. And I do believe that it’s that much harder for us veegs to build muscle AND lower body fat without consuming ANY soy therefore it’s crucial to at least include protein powder in their diet plan.

I’m also all about variety when it comes to meal planning so I’ll usually include both a good-quality rice-based protein like my own and also a hemp-based option like Manitoba Harvest . And you know what question 90% of clients come back with?

“Can I eat hemp seeds instead of hemp protein powder?”

And then I take a deep breath and go into my lengthy, passionate description as to why hemp seeds will not produce the same “Jacked on the Beanstalk” results as hemp powder. The short answer being HEMP SEEDS ARE A FAT SOURCE. HEMP POWDER IS A PROTEIN SOURCE.

Yes, hemp seeds are considered a “whole food” and do contain some protein. And yes, it is hemp seeds that are ground up in the first stage of hemp protein processing. The seeds are, however, squeezed to extract the oil (removing most of the fat content.) And what remains is referred to as “hemp seed cake” (mmmmmmm sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?) 🙂

The hemp “seed cake” is what gets milled and turned into powder. The powder is then sifted into “hemp flour.” This flour from the initial “sifting” creates a high fiber product but one that’s also lower in protein. Side note: am I using enough quotation marks in this paragraph or no?

i heart quotation marks

Finally, to make that muscle building hemp protein we meatless meatheads love oh-so-much, the flour gets sifted to an even finer degree. This extra sifting removes a lot of the fiber content, leaving a higher concentration of protein.

And THAT my vegan friends, is why a handful of hemp hearts is far more tasty and enjoyable than a bowl of hemp powder. They’re FAT. And who doesn’t love fats?!

I should also mention that due to the fact hemp protein is made from hemp seeds , it obviously produces a protein powder with a slightly higher fat content than say, a rice or pea-based protein. So for my clients who are training for a competition or desperately trying to lower body fat, I will put more rice protein on their meal plans rather than hemp powder to keep fats lower.

And finally, for all you macro counters who want the cold, hard, nutritional facts, these ghetto, highlighted tables were made just for you! 🙂

Check the higher fat and calories of hemp seeds and note their lower protein and fiber content:

nutrition facts hemp seeds vs. hemp protein powder

And here is the nutritional data for North Coast Naturals’ organic hemp protein powder :

nutrition facts north coast naturals hemp protein

I should mention that regardless of how you eat ’em, hemp seeds are still a nutrition powerhouse as you can see from my tables above. They digest easily, taste awesome and are super versatile, adding great texture to everything from salads and oatmeal to baking and smoothies.

And the fat they do contain is at least GOOD FAT. We’re talkin’ a healthy dose of omega-3 and omega-6s plus muscle-building amino acids. Hemp seeds are also high in magnesium which helps you to fall asleep at night, relaxes your muscles, controls blood sugar, blood pressure and good for your bones. So however which way you choose to eat them, get ’em in ya.

Alright, I’m officially over talking about hemp. And for some reason, now I feel as though I should smoke a joint, eat some hemp seed cake and do yoga in the forest…

samantha shorkey yoga posture

Disclaimer: this picture was totally staged for a stock photo my friend Roby Pavone needed. What’s yoga?!

The nitty, gritty facts (pun intended) on the difference between hemp seeds and hemp powder & why one is much better for vegan bodybuilders than the other.

Health benefits of hemp seeds

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Many people consider hemp seeds to be a superfood. The seeds have a rich nutritional profile and provide a range of health benefits.

Although hemp seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, they do not produce a mind-altering effect.

These small, brown seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fatty acids, including omega-3s and omega-6s. They have antioxidant effects and may reduce symptoms of numerous ailments, improving the health of the heart, skin, and joints.

In this article, we look at the various benefits of hemp seeds and provide tips for adding them to the diet.

These seeds are full of nutritious compounds, including:

1. Protein

Benefits of hemp seeds

Share on Pinterest Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein, providing all nine essential amino acids.

Hemp seeds contain almost as much protein as soybeans. In every 30 grams (g) of seeds, or about 3 tablespoons, there are 9.46 g of protein.

These seeds are a complete source of protein, meaning that they provide all nine essential amino acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks for all proteins. The body cannot produce nine of these acids, so a person must absorb them through the diet.

Relatively few plant-based foods are complete sources of protein, making hemp seeds a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Hemp seeds are especially rich in an amino acid called arginine, which has benefits for heart health.

2. Unsaturated fats

The health benefits of polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, are becoming increasingly well known.

Hemp seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3.

The body cannot produce essential fatty acids, and the body must absorb them from the diet. They are crucial for long-term health.

The ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is also important.

In general, people tend to eat too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s, but adding hemp seeds to the diet may help to promote a balance.

According to results of a 2015 animal study, incorporating hemp seeds and hemp seed oil to hens’ diet led to eggs with increased levels of omega-3s in the yolks and a more healthful omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

Also, hemp seeds are low in saturated fats and contain no trans fats.

3. Fiber

Much of the fiber in a hemp seed lies in its outer hull, or shell. If possible, purchase hemp seeds with the hulls intact.

However, even without the shells, hemp seeds are a god source pf fiber, with three tablespoons containing approximately 1.2 g of fiber.

Consuming enough fiber every day can:

  • reduce the appetite
  • help with weight management
  • work to stabilize blood sugar levels
  • promote the health of the gut

4. Minerals and vitamins

Hemp seeds contain an impressive array of vitamins and minerals and are especially rich in:

  • vitamin E
  • magnesium
  • phosphorous
  • potassium

They are also a good source of iron, zinc, and B vitamins, including:

  • niacin
  • riboflavin
  • thiamine
  • vitamin B-6
  • folate

Alongside the nutritional benefits, some research suggests that hemp seeds have a wide range of positive health effects. They may:

5. Protect the brain

A study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that hemp seed extract has antioxidant effects in lab tests. These effects may result from the seeds’ cannabidiol (CBD) content.

Results of a review from 2018 suggest that CBD and other compounds in the seeds may have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, effects and may also help to regulate the immune system.

The review suggests that, because of these potential properties, CBD may help with neurological conditions, including:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neuropathic pain
  • childhood seizure disorders

6. Boost heart health

The medical community believes that omega-3 fatty acids improve the health of the heart and reduce the risk of issues such as arrhythmias and heart disease.

Hemp seeds contain high levels of omega-3s and a healthful ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

The seeds also contain high levels of arginine, an amino acid that turns into nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is essential for artery and vein dilation, and it helps keep blood vessel walls smooth and elastic.

Lowering blood pressure, eating a healthful diet, and participating in varied forms of exercise may help to decrease the risk of heart failure.

7. Reduce inflammation

The amount of omega-3s in hemp seeds and the seeds’ healthful omega-3 to omega-6 ratio can together help to reduce inflammation.

In addition, hemp seeds are a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid which may also have anti-inflammatory effects.

Some studies on animals suggest that GLA can act as a potent anti-inflammatory. However, recent studies in humans suggest that the acid is not always effective.

A review in The European Journal of Pharmacology states that humans process GLA in a very complicated way, which may explain why the studies in humans produce more varied results than those on animals.

When looking at these studies, it is important to note that researchers usually use high concentrations of hemp seed extracts and that eating the seeds may produce less dramatic effects.

Reducing inflammation may help manage the symptoms of chronic diseases , such as:

  • metabolic syndrome
  • type 2 diabetes
  • arthritis
  • heart disease
  • non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease

8. Improve skin conditions

Atopic dermatitis (AD) and acne can both result from chronic inflammation. The anti-inflammatory compounds in hemp seeds may help.

Among other possible dietary causes, acne may be linked to a deficiency in omega-3s. The high omega-3 content in hemp seeds may help to manage and reduce acne symptoms.

A 2018 review explored the effects of dietary changes on skin diseases. While the authors found evidence that eating more omega-3s may improve symptoms of acne, determining the extent of the effects will require more research.

The authors also note that prebiotics and plant fibers may help to manage symptoms of AD. Hemp seeds are a rich source of plant fiber.

9. Relieve rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. It causes the immune system to attack its own tissues, which leads to inflammation in the joints.

In 2014, research conducted in human cells suggested that hemp seed oil could have anti-rheumatic effects.

However, a 2018 review found a lack of conclusive evidence to suggest that cannabinoids could effectively treat rheumatic diseases. The authors noted that more research is needed.

Hemp seeds contain plenty of protein, healthful fatty acids, and fiber.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) , 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 116 calories and the following nutrients:

Protein 9.47 g
Carbohydrates 2.60 g
Fat 1.20 g
Total fatty acids 14.62 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 1.62 g
Polyunsaturated fat 11.43 g
Saturated fatty acids 1.38 g

Hemp seeds are also a healthful source of vitamin E and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Hemp seeds are small, brown seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. They have a rich nutritional profile, with high concentrations of protein and healthful fatty acids. Wide-ranging research suggests that the seeds may reduce symptoms of specific ailments. Learn more about the benefits of hemp seeds here.