Hemp Protein Powder Benefits, Nutrition and How to Use - Dr. Axe

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Hemp Protein Powder: The Perfect Plant-Based Protein?


Hemp protein powder - Dr. Axe

Did you know that hemp seeds are one of nature’s best sources for plant-based protein? If you’re looking to increase your protein intake from a natural and vegan source, then hemp protein powder just might be the perfect choice for you.

In fact, hemp protein powder is arguably the best vegan protein powder with 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce on its own and must obtain from dietary sources.

Hemp protein powder is not only a high-protein food powerhouse, but it’s also inherently loaded with more healthy omega fats and fiber than many other common protein powders. It doesn’t stop there — hemp has also been shown to improve fatigue and have positive effects on the immune system, and these are just some of the benefits of hemp protein powder.

What are the others? Let’s take a look.

What Is Hemp Protein?

Hemp is a distinct variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, which can be grown to maximize the fibers in the stalk of the plant or seed production. The hemp plant has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years, mainly for its strength as a fiber and for medicinal uses.


Hemp has barely or even no measurable levels of the most intoxicating compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid most known for its euphoric properties.

THC has been researched extensively, and science has shown that it has substantial health benefits when used appropriately. Hemp typically contains about 0.3 percent to 1.5 percent THC, whereas marijuana contains about 5 percent to 10 percent or more THC.

So don’t worry — consuming hemp certainly will not get you intoxicated. Hemp consumption is safe, healthy and legal.

Hemp protein powder and hemp oil are both made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp protein powder is easy on the taste buds with a faintly nutty flavor.

Hemp seeds are a powerhouse when it comes to protein with at least 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids:

  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins, and together, amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of the human body.

Hemp protein provides the essential fats omega-3 and omega-6 in a healthy 3:1 ratio. After all, it’s important to balance omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.

Hemp is also one of the few sources of the hard-to-get gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a healthy, plant-derived omega-6 metabolized differently than other less healthy omega-6s. GLA-rich foods like hemp seeds have been observed to help people with:

  • ADHD
  • Breast pain
  • Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Skin allergies

Related: CBD vs. THC: What Are the Differences?


Whether you’re a training athlete, a moderate exerciser or not currently very physically active, there is a wide range of hemp protein powder benefits that make it a good choice for just about anyone, including the following:

1. Increases Protein Intake

First and foremost, by consuming hemp protein powder regularly you directly and easily increase your overall protein intake. Why is protein so important?

In your body, proteins actually make up the vital organs, muscles, tissues and even some hormones. Proteins also develop, grow and maintain just about every part of you.

In addition, they boost metabolism and increase your fat-burning potential.

Without proper daily protein intake, it’s common to find yourself struggling to lose weight, fighting fatigue, suffering from mood swings and many other health issues.

One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the quality of protein from hemp seed has digestibility and amino acid scores equal to or greater than certain grains, nuts and pulses. As a high-protein source, hemp protein powder helps prevent protein deficiency and provides the protein you need.


2. Improves Heart Health

Hemp seeds have an ideal 3:1 balance of omega-3 vs. omega-6 fatty acids, which promotes cardiovascular health. More specifically, hemp protein powder contains linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that some studies suggest helps prevent coronary heart disease.

A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism indicates that hempseed has the potential to beneficially influence heart disease with hypotensive effects and anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers suggest that it may benefit high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and health issues associated with heart disease, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Hemp seeds are also heart-healthy, high-fiber foods. We recommend adding hemp protein powder to a morning smoothie to naturally lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol and improve triglycerides.

3. Supports Bone Health

Hemp is naturally rich in the essential omega-6 fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Some studies suggest that people who do not get enough essential fatty acids — especially GLA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — are more likely to have bone loss than those with normal levels of these healthy fats.

An organic hemp protein product also contains omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to benefit skeletal health. Studies suggest that omega-3 contributes positively to bone turnover markers and may reduce the risk of fractures.

4. Cleanses the Colon

Hemp protein powder is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, with about five grams of fiber per serving. Both forms of fiber naturally cleanse the colon, reducing constipation and toxins in the body.

Some studies even suggest that fiber protects against the development of colorectal cancer. Adding fiber to your diet in the form of hemp protein powder can also lower your risk for hemorrhoids, diarrhea and diverticulosis.

5. Reduces Sugar Cravings

The impressive nutrient content of hemp protein powder makes it a perfect ally in the fight against the craving for unhealthy sweets. In fact, research published in Nutrition Reviews suggests that an increase of fiber consumption may help decrease the prevalence of obesity.

Hemp seed protein products offer a healthy dose of dietary fiber, which helps regulate blood glucose. When you keep your glucose levels steady, you’re much less likely to experience energy crashes and aren’t as likely to crave sugar to fill the void.

6. Boosts the Immune System

By consuming hemp protein powder, you can easily give your immune system a boost. Research indicates that the immune-boosting hemp seed benefits come from its unique protein content.

Hemp seeds contain the globular plant proteins edestin (65 percent to 67 percent) and albumin (33 percent to 35 percent). These globular proteins are responsible for enzymatic functions in the blood plasma along with antibody formation, making them critical for strong immune function.

Edestin is considered the most easily digestible protein and is very similar to protein in the human body. Hemp contains the greatest known levels of edestin in the plant kingdom, making it a superior source of protein.

Albumin is another highly digestible, high-quality source of plant protein. Hemp seeds are also free of trypsin inhibitors and oligosaccharides, two things that negatively affect the absorption and digestibility of other plant sources of protein.

Related: What Is Protein Coffee? Benefits + How to Make It


Hemp protein powder is made from hemp seeds, which provide a solid nutritional boost similar to flax seeds. Hemp protein powder packs a health punch of dietary fiber, chlorophyll, minerals and antioxidants without any saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium or sugar.

A serving — about four tablespoons (31 grams) — of an organic, good-quality hemp protein powder contains about:

  • 120 calories
  • 13 grams carbohydrates
  • 12 grams protein
  • 2 grams fat
  • 11 grams fiber
  • 260 milligrams magnesium (65 percent DV)
  • 6 milligrams iron (35 percent DV)
  • 391 milligrams potassium (8 percent DV)
  • 44 milligrams calcium (4 percent DV)

How to Use

On average, a person needs about half of his or her body weight in protein each day. The ratio is even greater if you’re an athlete.

By including organic hemp protein products in your diet, you can easily meet your daily protein needs.

Look for a hemp protein powder that only has one ingredient: cold-pressed, organic hemp protein. You don’t want any added hexane, dairy, lactose or sweeteners.

The typical recommendation for hemp protein powder is one to four tablespoons per day, which is around 30 grams.

You can use hemp protein just like you use any other protein powder. Add it to a smoothie or shake for breakfast or a pre- or post-workout protein boost. You can also simply blend hemp protein powder with your favorite milk.

You can try adding hemp protein powder to:

  • hot cereal
  • yogurt
  • pancakes
  • granola bars
  • protein bars
  • muffins
  • brownies
  • cakes
  • breads

You can use hemp protein to replace up to 25 percent of the flour in baked goods, which adds protein, fiber, healthy fats and lots of nutrients to your finished product.

Here are some delicious recipes you don’t want to miss — simply use hemp as your protein powder of choice:

Risks and Side Effects

Like any protein supplement, organic hemp protein powders should be consumed in relation to overall dietary protein goals and how much dietary protein is consumed via other sources. Protein goals vary from person to person so check with a nutritionist if you are unsure of your needs.

A few hemp protein powder side effects are possible. If you have any health or general concerns, consult your doctor before you buy hemp protein powder, especially if you take blood-thinning medication.

Hemp protein powder can sometimes cause mild diarrhea, but the best way to avoid this is to start with a very low dosage (one teaspoon) and slowly increase.

People who get herpes infections (including cold sores) need to be careful when it comes to hemp protein powder since the protein from hemp seeds contains significant levels of the amino acid arginine. Arginine is important for wound healing, hormone production and immune function, but increased levels of arginine in the diet actually encourage herpes infection since arginine is required by the virus to replicate viral proteins.

People with recurring, chronic or acute herpes infections should most likely refrain from consuming hemp seed products daily.

The main warning with hemp seed protein is for people who suffer from autoimmune conditions. Hemp seed protein comprises up to 65 percent globulin edistin, which is required by the human body for making blood proteins and immune system boosters, such as antibodies and gamma globulin. While this nutrition is beneficial for the majority of the population, victims of autoimmune conditions may find hemp seed products are too stimulating on the immune system.

There has been no research yet on hemp seed products and autoimmune conditions — however it’s known that the combination of essential fatty acids and amino acids in hemp seed increases white blood cells in animals and humans. Readers suffering from autoimmune conditions or who are taking immunosuppressive drugs should use hemp seed protein with caution.


  • Hemp seeds are one of nature’s best sources for plant-based protein.
  • Hemp protein powder has 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce on its own and must obtain from dietary sources.
  • THC has substantial health benefits with veritably no side effects when not smoked.
  • Hemp consumption is safe, healthy and legal — and it won’t get you intoxicated.
  • Hemp protein powder increases protein intake, improves heart health, decreases osteoporosis risk, cleanses the colon, reduces sugar cravings and boosts the immune system.
  • Hemp protein powder is typically the safest option, as it rarely has additives or pesticides added.

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