Hemp Protein Amino Acid Profile

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Hemp is a common ingredient in many vegan protein powders.

The following chart shows a typical hemp protein’s amino acid profile. Essential amino acids have a little asterisk next to their names.

This graph was generated using our amino acid profile comparison tool.

hemp protein amino acid profile graph

(Data Source)

Complete List of Hemp’s Amino Acids

It might be easier to read in table form. Essential amino acids are again marked with an asterisk (*).

 % of total amino acids
Alanine4.7
Arginine11.4
Aspartic Acid10.7
Cystine2
Glutamic Acid17.6
Glycine4.8
Histidine*2.7
Isoleucine*4.5
Leucine*6.8
Lysine*3.8
Methionine*2.6
Phenylalanine*4.7
Proline4.6
Serine5
Threonine*3.9
Tryptophan*1.1
Tyrosine3.3
Valine*5.6

Is Hemp a Complete Protein?

Hemp is so close to being a complete protein, based on the relative amounts of each essential amino acid defined by the WHO:

 
Complete Protein (min %)
Hemp Protein (%)
Histidine1.52.7
Isoleucine34.5
Leucine5.96.8
Lysine4.53.8
Methionine+Cysteine
1.64.6
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine
38
Threonine2.33.9
Valine3.95.6

It falls a bit short when it comes to lysine, but not by much.

The real issue with hemp is eating a lot of it. There’s only so many hemp seeds that you can add to a shake, oatmeal, or salad.

Overall Summary of Hemp Protein’s Amino Acid Profile

It’s debatable whether or not hemp is a complete amino acid (certain crops could be). It has a decent quantity of all essential amino acids.

But as long as you’re not getting 100% of your protein from hemp, it’s a non-issue.

Comparing hemp vs whey protein, just for reference to an animal protein, there are only a few main differences:

  • Hemp is relatively high in arginine and glycine
  • Hemp is relatively low in leucine, isoleucine, and threonine

Considering leucine and isoleucine are both essential amino acids, that’s not great for hemp. But overall, hemp is a high quality protein source with a solid amino acid profile, which is arguably even better than soy’s amino acid profile.

Finally, note that beans compliment hemp quite well. They have a lot of leucine and isoleucine, and are great vegan sources of tryptophan.

Best Plant-Based Protein Sources to Pair With Hemp

While most people don’t need to worry about it, if you really want to ensure that you’re getting enough lysine in your diet, focus on eating foods relatively high in lysine to balance out hemp’s deficiency.

In terms of plant-based protein sources, this means eating mainly legumes. Here are the top 10 in terms of lysine per 100 grams:

  • Soybeans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lentils
  • Oats
  • Kidney beans
  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Black beans
  • Mung bean
  • Buckwheat groats
  • Chickpeas

Seven of the top 10 plant-based lysine sources are legumes.

The other 3 are grains (oats, buckwheat groats), or grain-based (vital wheat gluten). If you’re not familiar with it, vital wheat gluten is literally just gluten (a protein) isolated from wheat. It’s almost like a protein powder, and can be used to make seitan.

On that note, you might be interested in seitan’s amino acid profile. Note that seitan is still relatively low in lysine (it just has a high quantity of protein overall to make up for it), so you’ll probably want to stick to the other foods on the list above.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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