Everywhere you look there are different kinds of protein powders, some with extra nutritional benefits, some with more protein per serving than others. Understanding what’s right for you and your body can give you a huge physical and mental wellness boost. I know that - for me, at least - wanting to understand exactly what I’m putting into my body and where it comes from is really important, so when I see ingredients I want to learn more about, I dive right in!
The best thing about innovation in the health and wellness community is that new products and ingredients become available all the time, and learning about them and their benefits can be great fun! However, it can also be a bit daunting, especially if you’re new to supplements. There’s a lot of terminology that might be difficult to understand!
There can also be a lot of misconceptions about various ingredients through association. Take hemp, for example, our focus for this article. One of the most commonly asked questions regarding hemp’s use as a protein powder is “does hemp protein get you high?” - the answer of course being a resounding no.
That’s why we’re going to take a bit more of a look into hemp protein powder in an understandable, informative way - so that you can make the best choices for your health.
What is hemp?
Whilst a lot of people think that cannabis and hemp are two different plants, they are the same species. Hemp is a variant of cannabis sativa which contains less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) by dry weight. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis which creates the ‘high’.
Hemp is used for many different things, including paper and clothing and, where it is a fast growing plant, it is considered a more sustainable option for creating such items. It’s also used in food products, such as oil and milk.
Hemp is one of the most popular plant-based protein sources, and it can be made into a protein powder. It is considered to be a high quality option as it contains a number of components which are beneficial for our health.
This includes all nine essential amino acids, and dietary fibre, which is needed to keep our guts healthy. It is mineral rich (with good levels of potassium, magnesium and phosphorous), contains beneficial fatty acids (including Omega 3) and is a great source of plant-based protein. It’s believed that hemp is between 91-98% digestible, as it contains the proteins albumin and edestin, making it a great option for gentle digestion.
How is hemp protein powder made?
To make hemp protein powder, hemp seeds are cleaned and dried by being passed through sieves and then sent through a piece of equipment called a fanning mill. The seeds have their outer shells removed in a process called ‘dehulling’. They are then pressed to remove their oil content, which is also a food product! The byproduct from the oil extraction process is called hemp meal (or hemp cake, which sounds much more appetising!). This is what becomes your hemp protein powder. Once the hemp cake has been milled, it is separated to create the fine consistency necessary for your protein powder.
Sometimes when the oil is being extracted the hemp is heated, which can reduce its overall digestibility by up to 10%. That’s why our Vegan Protein Powders use cold-pressed hemp, which allows for maximum nutritional value from the hemp seeds themselves, and helps to keep it as digestible as possible, so that you can really make the most of your protein shake.
Tell me more! Pros? Cons?
Hemp protein powder is considered to be a complete protein source, with excellent bioavailability. It contains a number of minerals that are needed by the body, such as copper, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.
It is also known to contain substances called lignanamides. These are compounds which harbour antioxidative properties, thought to protect your body from oxidative damage. This is especially important for people who have chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, which are often associated with oxidative damage.
Hemp protein powder is also one of the most sustainable protein powders. It is created using a byproduct from the production of hemp oil, which reduces food waste, and it also requires less treatment and processing than other protein powders (such as whey), making it a more natural option.
Due to the presence of fatty acids within hemp protein, it might have a higher calorie content than other protein powders, but when you consider just how beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids are for our bodies, hemp is a great option for overall wellness!
Hemp protein powder contains around 8g of dietary fibre per serving, which is higher than a lot of other protein sources, and this might cause gas and bloating for some of us if consumed too fast.
In short, hemp protein powder is a plant-based protein lover's dream. It has a very low risk of allergen response, is easy to digest, contains a plethora of minerals, fatty acids and beneficial nutrients, and is more sustainable. Plus, it has a wonderful nutty flavour!
What’s not to love?!