Industrial hemp seeds’ value as a protein source is one of the most recent developments in the renewed focus on the potential benefits of the non-psychoactive variant of the cannabis sativa plant in terms of health and nutrition.
Almost obscured by the attention paid to the oil component of the hemp seed, which has made big inroads into the health food and supplement market, the contribution the seed can make in terms of its high-value proteins and amino-acids has taken a hind seat. However, hemp protein is now creating its own niche the marketplace as sources of valuable proteins.
What you eat is what you get
At about 25% protein, industrial hemp seed doesn’t have the highest protein content available – soy tops it at 32%. However, with hemp seed protein what you eat is what you get: the body is able to use every bit of its nutritional goodness.
Your body can break down, digest and absorb all hemp seed’s protein and amino acids because, unlike protein from other sources including soy, it contains no trypsin inhibitors. These inhibitors block the body’s trypsin enzyme from breaking down and digesting proteins properly.
The two main proteins in hemp seed are edestin and albumin. Both are easily-digested high-quality proteins which contain most amino acids and all the essential amino acids the body is unable to make for itself. In particular, hemp seed is high in arginine, an amino acid which improves the pulmonary; cardiovascular; digestive and immune systems, as well as protecting against the early formation stages of cancer.
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Proteins that match our body proteins
Both proteins are very similar to proteins produced by the human body, which makes them easily assimilated by the body. Edestin, unique to hemp seed, makes up about two thirds of the seed’s protein content. It meets the body’s needs with regard to cellular DNA repair.
The second major protein, albumin, is the same protein our liver produces to keep fluid from leaking out of blood vessels; to transport hormones, vitamins and minerals around the body and to nourish tissues.
No allergies recorded
Although officially classified as nuts, hemp seeds have not been found to cause allergic reactions. They do not, therefore, usually provide the same threat as many other protein sources like peanuts, seafood, eggs and dairy products, where allergies can sometimes even prove fatal. As these seeds do not contain gluten, those with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease who are forced to skip wheat, rye and barley, do not need to avoid hemp seed products.
Industrial hemp protein
Totally plant-based, hemp protein is suitable for vegans and non-vegans and no nutrients needed to be added artificially.
Hemp protein concentrates often contain even more protein than the hulled seeds do. After processing, protein content soars to around 40 percent compared to the 25 percent in the original seed.
The process also reduces the calories and the saturated fats in the protein, and changes vitamin and mineral levels compared to hulled seeds, increasing them.
When the oil has been extracted from the seed, levels of the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 which hemp seeds contain at the most beneficial ratio of 2,7:1.
Top of the minerals list will be about 260mg magnesium, 6,3mg iron, 380mg potassium and 60mg calcium.
Using hemp protein
Add it to smoothies, sprinkle it on salads or use it over breakfast cereals. It can be substituted for some of the flour in baked goods but it must be born in mind that some of the nutrients in the industrial hemp concentrate are lost when it is heated.