Protein Supplements: Hemp
This week wraps up our look at protein supplements. As we’ve seen, whey and casein supplements are the top contenders out there. Soy protein supplements are another option, especially for those who prefer something that’s plant-based. There’s one other plant-based protein supplement that isn’t as widely known as the others, and that’s hemp.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a crop that is thousands of years old. The stalk of the plant is extremely strong, making it suitable for use in rope, fabric, and paper. Hemp oil has been used for food, for lamp oil, and to make soap and paint.
Hemp is part of the cannabis species but does not contain psychoactive compounds (as are found in marijuana); this species is grown specifically for food, personal care products, textiles, and building materials.
Hemp seeds and hemp oil are obviously plant products, making them suitable for vegetarians. Hemp is also gluten-free, and allergies to hemp are not common. Hemp oil contains a fatty acid called gamma linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid that may help ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy, improve blood glucose control, and possibly help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Hemp seeds are low in carbohydrate and rich in protein and fat. Like flax seeds, they can be added to just about anything, such as salads, cereal, soup, or yogurt. One tablespoon of hemp seeds contains 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of carbohydrate, and 5.5 grams of protein.
Hemp oil is a polyunsaturated fat that, like flaxseed oil, has a nutty taste and can be used in and on foods. It’s not meant to be used as a cooking oil, however. One tablespoon of hemp oil has 126 calories, 14 grams of fat, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat.
Like soybeans, hemp protein is considered to be a plant source of high-quality (or complete) protein, containing 10 essential amino acids. Some people may find hemp protein to be more easily digested than soy, thanks to a type of protein called edestin. People who are vegetarians or who may be allergic or intolerant to soy, tree nuts, or dairy might decide to use hemp protein. A 30-gram serving of hemp protein powder (which is about 4 tablespoons) provides 11 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. Hemp protein powder also contains vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
A drawback to hemp protein is that it contains less protein than other protein supplements, such as whey. Bodybuilders may find that hemp protein powder doesn’t contain enough protein to actually build muscle. However, as a general protein supplement, hemp protein is certainly an option.
Side Effects of Hemp Protein
Hemp protein is highly nutritious and has relatively few side effects. However, it may initially cause gastrointestinal distress, such as cramping, bloating, or diarrhea, in some people. This is generally temporary. People taking blood-thinning medicines should be careful about hemp protein, as it may increase the risk of bleeding.
Summing It Up
The decision to use a protein supplement is (ideally) one to make with your health-care provider or dietitian. People who are in relatively good health don’t need to take in additional protein. But in the event that you or your provider believes that your diet isn’t giving you the amount of protein that you need, consider taking a protein supplement.
Protein powders, in general, provide at least 20 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving (usually a standard serving size), as well as 100 to 130 calories. You likely don’t need more than one serving of the protein supplement during the day as long as you are eating other sources of protein in your diet. The carbohydrate content of protein powders can vary, so check the label and don’t forget to count it if it’s more than 5 grams per serving. Also, consider what you’re mixing your protein powder with. If you mix your powder with skim milk or juice, don’t forget to figure in the carbohydrate and calories, as well.
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This week wraps up our look at protein supplements. As we've seen, whey and casein supplements are the top contenders out there. Soy protein supplements are another option, especially for those who prefer something that's plant-based. There's one other plant-based protein supplement that isn't as widely known as the others…
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:
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.
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
They are also a good source of iron, zinc, and B vitamins, including:
- vitamin B-6
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
- 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:
|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.