Hemp Protein: Healthful and Versatile

Hemp has a variety of uses from clothing to oils. While derived from the same Cannabis plant that pot or marijuana comes from, it doesn’t have the psychoactive ingredient, THC. What it does have is nutritional value, among its many diverse potential uses. While it is referred to as Hemp Protein, it also has good essential fatty acids as well.

Hemp was recently discussed in a post where its properties were discussed, including the amino acid profile of the protein content as well as the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids found in the protein. It has a nice, somewhat nutty flavor that makes a nice supplement to a good diet.

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The virtues of hemp protein powder

Hemp Protein powder has recently attracted notice as an alternative to whey-based protein powders. Here are some of the virtues and advantages of hemp-based powders:

1. This plant-based supplement supports muscle mass and muscle growth as effectively as whey-based protein powders, according to user reports.

2. Hemp protein powder is a surprisingly complete source of nutrients, containing all 20 known amino acids, including the 10 essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce. Hemp powder also includes the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in the ratio–1:3–that is often considered ideal. Last, hemp’s high fiber content may have benefit for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

3. Some users report that while they didn’t like the “sour milk” after taste (and breath) common with whey-based protein powders, the hemp alternative leaves a cleaner aftertaste in the mouth.

For other benefits of hemp protein powder, see the NYBC entry:

HEMP PROTEIN POWDER (ORGANIC) – JARROW

Nutrivir – No Sugar Added

Nutrivir, which NYBC has stocked since the start, is an excellent and tasty combination of nutrients in a base of vanilla-flavored whey protein concentrate. In addition to vitamins and minerals, Nutrivir contains n-acetylcysteine (NAC) and carnitine. It was formulated especially to combat wasting syndrome, which can occur in those undergoing cancer treatments, or in people with HIV/AIDS. (Wasting syndrome is defined as unintended and progressive weight loss, accompanied by weakness, fevers and nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption.)

Here’s a bit more from the supplier of Nutrivir:

Increasing evidence suggests that abnormal metabolism of cysteine and glutathione plays a decisive role in loss of muscle and immune dysfunction associated with [wasting syndrome]. At this time, the most promising supplement for these patients is a cysteine derivative known as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). NutriVir [supplies]… quantities of NAC and other antioxidants that have been shown in clinical trials to be effective in combating wasting, malabsorption and diarrhea associated with cancer and AIDS.

Read more details at the NYBC entry:

Nutrivir

ARE YOU READY TO JOIN THE FOOD REVOLUTION?

 Maybe it was the glory of our neighborhood community garden in June that inspired us to write this piece for the next issue of the New York Buyers’ Club newsletter, THE SUPPLEMENT:

 

Is it just our imagination, or have we detected a growing public interest in the impact of food on our health? Maybe you’ve heard about our new first family, the Obamas, and the vegetable garden they’ve planted at the White House to supply their kitchen with locally grown, healthy vegetables and berries. Or—not such cheerful news–maybe you’ve read about the obesity epidemic sweeping the US, caused largely by mass consumption of fast food and highly processed food products, and linked to devastating increases in diabetes and cardiovascular disease across the population. Or maybe you’ve dipped (or dug) into the writings of food revolutionary Michael Pollan, who’s become celebrated for urging us to eat real food (like our great-great-grandparents ate), shun the supermarket and shop the greenmarket whenever possible, and even plant a garden.

Though the New York Buyers’ Club is a nutritional supplements co-op, we understand very well that food is first. The food we eat every day, what kind and how much, has an enormous impact on our health, and research on diet has brought to light ever more clearly the effects of nutrition on both our physical health and our mental well-being. A few things have been obvious for a while: traditional diets, such as the “Mediterranean diet” or the “Chinese diet,” are much better for you than the standard modern American diet with its refined carbohydrates, bad fats (saturated or trans), excessive salt, super-sized portions of red meat, and mighty rivers of high fructose corn syrup. It’s simple epidemiology: populations that eat lots of whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, moderate amounts of fish and poultry (and little red meat), and rely on traditional seasonings (from rosemary to turmeric) and good fats (like olive and fish oils) end up having significantly lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and even mental health conditions like depression.

Can the clear health benefits of traditional diets be translated in any useful way to the field of supplements? (Supplements are, to repeat, a supplement to food, not a replacement.) One obvious “yes” comes in the increased study and use of fish oil/omega-3 fatty acid supplements over the last few decades, first of all for cardiovascular health, but also—as has been highlighted more recently—to reduce susceptibility to depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Here’s a case in which an individual nutrient within a healthful diet has been isolated and can be delivered as a supplement that bestows health benefits. (Fish oil supplements have a particular advantage over food sources, too: they can be refined to eliminate mercury or other contamination, a growing concern these days, whether you’re eating fresh or canned fish.)

We also know that it’s possible to extract a component from food and use its particular properties to confer a health benefit, while leaving behind other parts that you don’t want or need. This is the case with whey protein powders, which leave behind milk fat, but keep the whey protein with its high nutritional value.  It’s not news that whey protein can help to build and sustain the body’s lean muscle mass (crucial for maintaining long-term health, and especially important for people with chronic conditions like HIV that may impair absorption of nutrients), but research has uncovered as well several important indications of its value in supporting immune function, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and even serving as an anti-cancer agent.

Foods found in traditional diets continue to be the focus of scientific research on what’s healthy in what we eat, and why. Recently, we looked into a study showing that Chinese women who regularly ate mushrooms and drank green tea had lower rates of breast cancer, or less severe manifestations of breast cancer, than those who didn’t. This kind of nutrition research is about putting two and two together. It was known that the rate of breast cancer in China is four to five times lower than that in most Western industrialized countries; and there had been previous lab studies suggesting the anti-cancer properties of green tea and mushrooms—so why not investigate more rigorously the relationship between breast cancer rates and consumption of these traditional foods?

And here’s another bit of evidence-based food advice. A few months ago our hometown newspaper, The New York Times, featured a piece entitled “The Power of Berries” (Jan. 22, 2009), which detailed the accumulating research on how these fruits help ward off cancers of the colon, esophagus, and mouth. This research built on the well-documented association between diets rich in berries (including black and red raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and elderberries) and lower rates of cancer. One new suggestion emerging from the recent studies is that berries may exert a “genome-wide” anti-cancer effect, meaning that, unlike many current cancer treatments that target only one cancer-promoting gene at a time, berries may target a whole spectrum of cancer-promoting genes, causing them to shut down development of pre-cancerous and cancerous growths. Exciting stuff from the berry researchers! And, there’s a further, practical note: investigations have demonstrated that freeze dried berries and berry powders are as effective as fresh fruit in terms of anti-cancer effect. So even if you can’t eat fresh berries several times a week (an obvious problem for those of us who don’t live where the growing season is year-round), mixing a powdered berry supplement into a smoothie could be just as useful to your health. 

We gave this piece a somewhat tongue-in-cheek title, asking if you, dear reader, were ready to join the “food revolution.” Actually, it strikes us that the current revolution in thinking about our eating habits in many ways involves returning to the old days—to the traditional diets of previous generations, to the old-fashioned idea of raising your own food, or to shopping for locally-grown produce at a greenmarket. Of course we return to these older ways armed with a store of advanced knowledge about why some dietary traditions are healthful, and how they can be adapted to our modern lives. If that’s the definition of the “food revolution,” we at NYBC heartily encourage you to sign up—for your health!

Organic hemp protein powder from Jarrow

Studies of hemp protein in mice conducted in China showed improvements in energy, less fatigue and some immune system modulation. This included increases in CD4 numbers in the spleen (though of course whether this would have any relevance to people living with HIV is unknown; see Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2008 Mar;37(2):175-178). Lactic acid levels were also seen to decrease. A rat study showed a significant decrease in LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) and an increase in the good cholesterol, HDL, over a 20-day period. Again, whether this is relevant to humans or what dosage daily would be needed to achieve this is unclear.

In any event, this products offers another alternative for a good protein source with a favorable amino acid profile. It has an innocuous flavor and is great in juice! If you are able to assess your energy level or start this around the time you get blood work, get a fasting lipid panel–and let us know what happens (improvement, no change or any problems).

Each 2 scoops contains: Total protein – 15 g
Total fat – 4 g
Sat fat – 0.4 g
trans fat – 0 g
Omega 3 – 0.7 g
Omega 6 – 2 g
Cholesterol – 0 mg
Sodium – 1 mg
Total Carbohydrates – 7 g
Dietary fiber – 6 g
Sugars – 1 g
Calcium – 39 mg
Iron – 6 mg
Vitamin A – 49 IU

Suggested use: Add 2 level scoops to water, fresh juice or other beverages, or your favorite smoothie recipe. May also be used as a topping for salads, cereals, and soups. For a low-carb, high-protein baking alternative, substitute hemp protein for flour (up to 25%) in your favorite recipe.

Contains no wheat, no gluten, no soybean, no dairy, no egg, no fish/shellfish, no peanuts/tree nuts. Suitable for vegetarians/vegans. Certified Organic by QAI.

See the NYBC entry for further details:

Nutrivir NSA (No Sugar Added): a whey protein powder enhanced with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

See the NYBC entry on Nutrivir No Sugar Added for information on this combination of whey protein powder, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that’s formulated by upstate New York biotech company BioNexus. NYBC has chosen to stock the No Sugar Added version because that option responds to the concerns of many who are cutting down on refined sugar in their diets. (Of course, you can always add your favorite sweetener if you wish.)
Overall, NYBC members have found this product to be very useful for maintaining optimal weight and also just for its convenience in supplying antioxidant and multivitamin/mineral supplements in a single product that’s easy to incorporate into drinks, yogurt etc. Note some of the additional components of Nutrivir: digestive enzymes, vitamins A, C, E, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, N-acetyl cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, taurine and L-carnitine.