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Is Hemp a Complete Protein?

Hemp is a food with a number of nutrients beneficial to the body. One of its best qualities is that it is a good source of protein, especially for individuals looking for alternative healthy ways to meet their protein needs. However, it is important to know whether hemp is a complete protein resource that can help meet daily intake recommendations.

Hemp Amino Acid Content

Proteins consist of chains of amino acids. The body can make 10 amino acids itself. However, there are 10 amino acids the body cannot produce, so you must get them through diet. These are called essential amino acids. Hemp contains all of the essential amino acids. According to the University of Arizona Biology Project, an insufficient intake of even one of the essential amino acids can result in the breakdown of muscle.

Incomplete and Complete Proteins

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Proteins can be classified as complete or incomplete. Complete proteins are those that contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities. Meat, eggs, fish, poultry and dairy products are all sources of complete proteins. Incomplete proteins are those that do not have one or more of the essential amino acids. Beans, nuts, peas and grains are examples of incomplete proteins. Hemp, because it has all of the essential amino acids, is classified as a complete protein.

Healthy Way to Get Complete Protein

One of the drawbacks to obtaining protein from meat and dairy sources can be the amount of saturated fat in these foods. Hemp is a suitable alternative because it is not only a complete protein but also low in saturated fats. Hemp contains a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids and less than 10 percent saturated fat. Omega-3 is known for its heart-healthy benefits.


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Side effects to hemp use are rare. However, some individuals may experience loose stools and mild abdominal cramps. In addition, although the omega-3 content of hemp is a benefit in most circumstances, it can alter platelet function. Therefore, the University of Michigan Health System warns individuals taking anticoagulants that they should be aware that hemp can increase bleeding.