Six percent of Americans now say they’re vegan, and the number of people going gluten-free has tripled since 2009. With the rise in dietary restrictions, it’s no surprise that more people than ever are turning to plant-based supplements for their protein.
The plant-based supplement market is booming—and that’s an understatement. According to market research, the protein supplement market will increase by more than 6% between now and 2025, and plant-based proteins will see the highest growth rate during that period, nearly 8%.
Within the growing sea of plant-based protein powders, one variety is an undeniable standout: hemp. Here’s what you need to know about hemp protein—from how it’s made to its key health benefits and why it’s considered a superfood.
What is hemp protein?
Hemp protein is a dietary supplement made from grounding the hemp seed after the oil is removed. Hemp is a specific variety of the cannabis plant, but you can breathe a sigh of relief: the hemp seed has no measurable levels of THC, the cannabis compound known for its psychoactive qualities. In short, hemp seed and the hemp protein powder made from it will not get you high. It’s legal and safe to consume hemp products, including hemp protein.
People who take hemp protein usually describe it as having a faintly nutty flavor that’s often easier on the taste buds than other protein powders.
What are the benefits of hemp protein?
The hemp plant has been used for thousands of years in varying forms. But perhaps no use is more powerful than as protein. Certified hemp protein is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free. Hemp protein is also free from oligosaccharides, a compound that can make other protein powders difficult to digest.
But the benefits don’t stop there. With all the amino acids, essential fatty acids and tons of fiber, hemp is widely considered one of the best, safest plant-based proteins.
Powerful protein: In 30 grams of hemp protein powder, you can typically find 12 grams of protein. And we’re not just talking any protein, but high-quality stuff that’s similar to the protein found in the human body. Why is that important? Because you’re getting the right amino acids in the right quantity to help your body make the protein it needs to stay in top shape. Hemp also has more glubonis and albumin than any other plant-based protein.
Amino acids galore: Hemp protein contains 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids—the compounds that combine with protein to form the human body’s building blocks. The nine essential amino acids cannot be created by your body alone and must, therefore, be obtained through your diet.
Essential fatty acids: Hemp protein delivers the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the ideal 3:1 ratio. It also contains the difficult-to-find gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA helps keep your skin elastic and hydrated, can increase energy and promote weight loss, supports hormone balance and reduces inflammation.
High-quality fiber: A 30g serving of hemp protein contains around 8g of fiber. Along with this fiber, your body will also reap the benefits of chlorophyll, antioxidants and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Hemp protein is a quality source of magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium.
What does all this quality protein, fatty acids and fiber mean for your body? Hemp can help you increase your energy, improve your metabolism, cut your food cravings and reduce your cholesterol. And it accomplishes this while being vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free.
Hemp protein has also been shown to decrease osteoporosis and bone loss in women over the age of 65. But what’s more, many of the women in a landmark hemp study actually showed an increased bone density. And thanks to the plant proteins edestin and albumin, which form antibodies and regulate enzyme function in your blood plasma, hemp can play a key role in a robust immune system, which is important any age.
How do you take hemp protein?
Hemp protein typically comes in a powder form. Thanks to its mild flavor, it can be easily added to your pre- or post-workout shake without compromising taste. There are also countless recipes online that substitute flour for hemp protein, making it easy to create your own protein bars or protein-rich baked goods at home. You can also add hemp protein powder to your cereal, yogurt and oatmeal for an extra protein boost.
Looking for more tips on incorporating protein supplements into your diet and fitness regimen? Check out our top-rated protein powders.