Hemp Protein Benefits and 7 Perfect Hemp Smoothie Recipes
Many people have never heard of hemp powder despite it being arguably the best vegan protein powder you can eat. It really is a true superfood.
One area of confusion for many people is understanding hemp vs marijuana. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant but hemp has little to no measurable levels of the psychoactive plant compound commonly referred to as THC. Hemp powder comes from the nutritionally dense seeds of the hemp plant.
I’ve been using hemp powder in my smoothies for over four years after I learned about the benefits of it. In this article we will cover everything you need to know about Hemp protein as well as how to use it your smoothies.
Table of Contents
- Why is Hemp Good for Us?
- Hemp Nutrition
- Hemp Seed Powder vs Other Protein Powders
- What to Look for When You Buy Hemp Powder
- Common Questions about Hemp:
- Hemp Protein Smoothie Recipes
- Final Thoughts
Why is Hemp Good for Us?
Hemp seeds offers one of the richest plant proteins in the world containing an amazing 20 different amino acids.
Hemp protein is very unique for a plant protein source because it is a complete protein with 9 essential amino acids that are only obtained from dietary sources. Some of the amino acids included are histidine and arginine, both required for growth, as well as repair of lean body tissue.
Amino acids are natural compounds that combine together to create proteins. Our body requires 20 different amino acids to function properly.
Our body can only make 11 of them and the other 9 come from our diet. These 9 amino acids are commonly called “essential” because we must get them through foods. Amino acids not only create important proteins but they create enzymes that allow the body to properly function.
Another benefit of hemp are the essential fatty acids (EFAs). Hemp protein is a great source of fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 in the optimum 3:1 ratio whereas many protein powders lack any healthy omega fatty acids. EFA’s are necessary for proper body function and a diet deficient in essential fatty acids will result in a wide range of health problems over time.
Finally, hemp protein is completely vegan, gluten-free and typically grown without pesticides.
As mentioned earlier, hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids and provide an excellent source of healthy fats and protein with protein comprising 25% of the calories.
Here are comparative nutrition panels of two of the most popular hemp protein powders. As you can see they are very similar.
Hemp Seed Powder vs Other Protein Powders
There is a large variety of protein powders on the market nowadays. You can choose among soy, brown rice, pea, casein, whey and many more. Lets get into how these compare.
Whey Protein vs Hemp
Whey protein powder is the most mainstream protein powder on the market as it has a high level of protein and good amino acid profile. It is popular for building muscle and healthy weight management.
The problem with whey protein is it causes digestion issues and bloating. Also, it can effect people who are lactose intolerant which surprisingly is 75% of the world population.
Whereas, hemp powder is easily digestible and richer in heart-healthy dietary fiber and unsaturated fats, which are key to disease prevention.
Soy Protein vs Hemp Protein
Soy protein is a popular protein powder for vegans and it does have a higher amount of overall protein versus Hemp, but hemp is considered a more digestible protein. For nutrition, Hemp has a higher level of healthy essential fatty acids and better nutritional profile.
Soy is highly processed with chemicals like hexane and is typically genetically engineered. Also there is lot a lot of debate about Soy and its high levels of phytoestrogens, which causes some people to completely avoid soy.
Hemp vs Flax Seed
While hemp seeds and flax seeds are both complete proteins containing all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, they are both low in the amino acide lysine.(Lysine is found in legumes like peanuts, lentils and beans).
We love ground flax seed as it loaded with nutrition and is an excellent source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. Whereas, Hemp protein has a balance of 3:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 essential fatty acids but a lower level of important Omega 3 compared to Flaxseed.
Flaxseed has more fiber than hemp but hemp seeds have more protein than flaxseed. If you are on a Keto diet Hemp powder has about 50% less carbohydrates than Flax seed.
Overall, both are good to have in your diet with Flaxseed as a good source for Omega 3 EFA’s and Hemp powder as an easily digestible source of plant protein and fiber. Related article: Flaxseed Smoothies
Hemp vs Rice and Pea Protein
Pea and brown rice protein are viable options for vegan protein sources and both are gluten and dairy free.
Pea protein contains higher levels of protein per serving than hemp powder. Pea protein quality is nutritionally similar to eggs whereas hemp protein is nutritional similar to nuts and seeds.
The main difference is that neither rice or pea protein offers the full amino acid profile of hemp.
Also hemp protein is easily digested which makes it a good pre-workout protein source.
What to Look for When You Buy Hemp Powder
Many of the hemp protein products from major brands are similar. Some things to pay attention to are:
- Quantity: Different brands have different serving sizes so pay attention to pricing per volume.
- Flavor: Hemp powder has a nutty, earthy kind of taste. It doesn’t taste good just mixing it with water like some protein powders so it is best used in baking or smoothie recipes. Some brands offer a flavored hemp like chocolate or vanilla, but I typically avoid those and just get 100% pure hemp powder with no additives or sweeteners.
- Organic: Most of the hemp protein brands are of good quality and many are sourced from Canada. Some brands use 100% organic powder but keep in mind that Hemp plants don’t typically require pesticides to grow so most hemp powder is very clean whether you buy it organic or not. Approximately half of hemp proteins on the market are organic and non-GMO certified.
Common Questions about Hemp:
Q: Is Hemp protein good for weight loss ?
A: Hemp is a great protein source when you are looking to lose weight as it is a complete protein source with fiber and essential fatty acids for complete nutrition.
Q: Can hemp make you fail a drug test ?
A: All major nutritional brands have stated that hemp seeds come from a different variety of the Cannabis plant than Marijuana and hemp has only the slightest trace of THC. Most hemp used in hemp protein comes from Canada which has strict testing standards and confirm that there is no risk of failing a drug test by consuming hemp protein.
Q: Is hemp really a complete protein ?
A: Yes, hemp protein is classified as a complete protein because it has all of the essential amino acids. Other examples of complete proteins are eggs, fish, poultry, and meat.
Hemp Protein Smoothie Recipes
Hemp protein can honestly be used in any smoothie recipe (Just add 1-3 tablespoons to your smoothie). Generally it is best to use it in smoothie recipes that have some type of sweet ingredient like fruit to offset the earthy hemp powder taste.
Here are some hemp smoothie recipes to get started with. (All of these recipes are sized to work with any blender including popular personal blenders)
1. Banana Hemp Protein Smoothie
If you’re looking for something to boost your energy after a workout, this may be a great solution for you.
- 1 large banana (remove peel)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter (or almond butter)
- ¼ Teaspoon vanilla extract
2. Berry Hemp Smoothie
A great healthy fruit smoothie for all ages. Sweet and packed with nutrition.
- 1 large banana
- 1 cup mixed frozen berries
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup coconut milk (or any milk you choose)
- 2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
3. Chocolate Hemp Smoothie Bowl
I make this chocolate smoothie bowl when I have a craving as it is like eating chocolate pudding but is so healthy. It has a very subtle chocolate taste as I use cacao instead of cocoa. Sometimes I make it with flax seed and sometimes I use hemp powder.
- 1 Avocado (remove peel and pit)
- 3 tablespoons of 100% raw cacao powder
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 tablespoon 100% real maple syrup
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1-2 tablespoons of plain Hemp powder
4. Tropical Smoothie
This delicious tropical smoothie is from our best nutribullet recipe post but I replaced the pumpkin seeds with hemp powder.
- 1 avocado
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup mango (frozen or fresh)
- 1 cup papaya
- Juice from ½ a lemon
- 1-2 Tablespoons hemp powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
5. Blueberry Antioxidant Smoothie
This smoothie is rich in antioxidants from blueberries and offers a nice balance of nutrition. This is an excellent post-workout smoothie or breakfast smoothie.
- ½ Avocado
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons hemp powder
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
6. Spicy Green Smoothie
I found this unique, healthy smoothie from Kitchy Kitchen that is worth a try if you like it spicy. It’s rich in vitamins and has lots of detoxifying ingredients. Just follow the original recipe and add in some Hemp protein(or any protein powder of your choice).
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 mango (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup cucumber, chopped
- 2 sprigs mint
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 cup ice
- Juice from 1 lime
7. Healthy Hemp Workout Smoothie
This unique hemp smoothie from Nutriliving (makers of the popular Nutribullet blender brand) is a good post workout smoothie with coconut water to replenish electrolytes and ginger to reduce inflammation.
- 1 cup Kale
- ½ cup Mango (frozen or fresh)
- ¼ cup almonds
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 ½ cups coconut water
Hemp protein is truly a superfood and an excellent addition to any diet whether you are vegan or not. It is easily digested by the body and is a great alternative to popular whey protein powders.
Give it a try and let us know what you think !