Written by Julie Meek – Dietitian and Nutritionist
There is no doubt that protein is one of the most talked about and debated nutrition topics and there is a great deal of interest in how, when and how much we should consume to recover, define our muscle shape and get some ‘big guns.’
The fact is, protein is integral in assisting your body to repair and recover on a day-to-day basis and especially following physical exercise.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are just like building blocks similar to Lego and they are either essential or non-essential. As the name would suggest, essential amino acids are essential to life and cannot be manufactured by the body and must be consumed through diet.
Protein is required to create, maintain and renew our body cells and enzymes, antibodies, haemoglobin and other blood compounds are assembled from proteins or are proteins.
The thing about protein is that quite often, the spotlight is on its close friend carbohydrate. In the process, protein often takes the backseat and gets less attention. Although, in recent years protein has been jostling for a front position with all the talk on paleo eating.
It is not difficult (with some care and attention) to meet protein needs through food, although for vegetarians and vegans it can be trickier than others.
Enter protein supplements. These products have been gracing shelves in increasing numbers for quite some time now but the new cool kid on the block is hemp protein.
What about Hemp?
Hemp protein, made from the hemp seed is cultivated from the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa). The hemp plant grows all over the world including our very own Margaret River in Western Australia and is considered to possess great potential for our state economically.
Yes, the hemp plant looks a bit like the marijuana plant and comes from the same species but there are major differences between the two. Hemp seed is low in THC – the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana and has recently become legal as a food product.
Already hailed as a ‘superfood,’ hemp seeds are high in good quality protein at around 33% and have an impressive omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid profile. These are the fats that your body and brain love and hemp seeds are neck to neck with walnuts on this score. They also contain more of these fats than chia and flax seeds.
These little nutrition powerhouses are super digestible, high in fibre and gluten free plus a handy source of some vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, zinc and folate.
At Kale and Co. we love these little goodies, as they are so versatile. With their slightly nutty flavour, hemp seeds can be added to baked goods, thrown into smoothies, the star of salads and vegetables dishes and used to make dressings or sauce. The possibilities are endless and hemp seeds boost protein quality and quantity wherever they go.