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…
Hemp Seeds: Are They Good for You?
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
- Nutrition Information
- Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
- Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients. Part of the hemp plant, these seeds are technically a nut that can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.
While related to the cannabis plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana. For centuries the seeds have been used for oral and topical applications to treat and prevent certain health issues. A growing body of modern clinical research is backing up many of these claims.
Hemp seeds’ nutty flavor and versatility also make them a great substitute for the levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional benefits found in meat and dairy products.
Hemp seeds can be:
- Eaten raw, roasted, or cooked
- Shelled as hemp hearts
- Cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil
- Used for non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese
A 30 gram serving (three-tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains:
- Calories: 166
- Protein: 9.47 grams
- Fat: 14.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Sugar: 0.45 grams
Hemp seeds are also good source of:
Hemp seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Studies have shown that the ideal ratio for the fatty acids in hemp seeds is 3 to 1. At this ratio, these fatty acids help to support healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function, and may help regulate your metabolism.
Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids, and research suggests that hemp’s protein content is well-absorbed by our bodies.
In addition to this protein load, hemp seeds history is tied to their potential health benefits. Many modern studies have backed up several of these claims.
Hemp seeds’ health benefits include:
Hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and is linked to the prevention of coronary heart disease. They also contain Linoleic acid, which one study found reduced participants’ cholesterol levels by 15% and may act to reduce blood pressure.
One of the omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA,) which may have anti-inflammatory effects similar to drugs like ibuprofen. One study found a 75% reduction in arthritis-associated pain in participants after nine months of GLA supplementation.
Hemp oil can be used in cooking to add nutritional benefits to your meal, and it can also be applied topically to the skin. Studies have found that hemp seed oil can relieve the symptoms of eczema and improve dry or itchy skin.
Research is ongoing, but hemp seed oil’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects may also help to treat acne.
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in hemp seeds is the optimal level for nutritional benefit. This balance supports both heart and cognitive health and is often lacking in most diets..
Hemp seeds also contain plant compounds called terpenes. While research is ongoing, studies suggest that terpenes may help protect the brain and prevent tumor growth.
Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
While the fat content in hemp seeds comes primarily from its healthy essential fatty acids, eat them in moderation to meet your recommended daily consumption of fat. High fat intake can also cause nausea or diarrhea.
Other things to consider before adding hemp seeds to your diet include:
Hemp seeds may interact with certain medications including anticoagulants.
Studies have shown that hemp seeds reduce blood clotting, which can interact with blood-thinner prescriptions.
There is not enough clinical research to show that hemp is safe either orally or topically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is not recommended.
Hemp seed shells can contain trace amounts of THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana. People with a previous dependence on cannabis may consider looking for an alternative.
The fiber content in hemp seeds can cause digestive discomfort like bloating, nausea, or constipation in large amounts. Make sure to drink plenty of water when eating hemp seeds to help avoid gut problems.
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Biochemical Education: “The action of vitamin K and coumarin anticoagulants.”
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Evaluating the Quality of Protein From Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Products Through the Use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score Method.”
Journal of Dermatological Treatment: “Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.”
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostatis: “Dietary hempseed reduces platelet aggregation.”
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Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”
Nutrients: “Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies.”
Nutrition & Metabolism: “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.”
Plant Science: “Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans.”
PLOS One: “The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes.”>
The British Medical Journal (BMJ): “The importance of a balanced ω-6 to ω-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity.”
The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behaviour Letter: “FDA on CBD in pregnancy and breastfeeding”
USDA FoodData Central: “Seeds, hemp seed, hulled.”
Find out what the research says about hemp seeds, who should have them, and how they may affect your health.