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Hemp Heart Protein Offers Next-Generation Advantages

There’s a new hemp protein in town—hemp heart protein—and it is beginning to compete with popular plant-based proteins (as well as traditional hemp protein). Despite its nutritional advantages, hemp protein currently has limited popularity as an ingredient in the U.S. due to history and the color & flavor of the traditional form.

The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act effectively declared hemp and other cannabis plants – whether they contain psychoactive THC or not -- illegal. It wasn’t until the 2014 Farm Bill that growing and processing industrial hemp – hemp containing less than 0.3% THC – was made legal for research. The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and paved the way for the legal cultivation, possession, sale, and distribution of industrial hemp.

Although hemp seed protein and oil have been available for sale (although not for growing or processing until after 2014) in the U.S. since the mid-00’s, their flavor and color prevented their widespread use as ingredients. The laws in place prohibiting growing and processing inhibited innovation to enhance acceptance.

So – as plant-based ingredients in analog products such as plant-based dairy and meats developed to meet consumer demand for complements and alternatives to soybeans, hemp seed ingredients couldn’t join in the party. Other plant-based proteins, such as pea protein, gained popularity despite bringing formulation challenges. The new, hemp heart protein format of hemp heart protein compares strongly to pea protein across the board, and bests it in several important ways.

Hemp protein and pea protein are both non-allergenic, plant-based proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids humans must acquire from food. Hemp protein is primarily composed of edestin and albumin, globular proteins that humans readily and efficiently use. Hemp is limited by relatively low levels of the amino acid lysine, a limitation easily addressed by formulation with a complementary plant-based protein high in lysine. Pea protein is comparatively more balanced in this regard, although the amino acid profile is only one consideration.

Hemp Heart Protein contains nearly as much protein as the popular organic pea protein, with the added benefit of no sodium.

No formulator chooses a plant-based protein ingredient solely on nutrition facts, of course. If the product challenges consumers from a sensory perspective or scares them off with a long and hard-to-understand list of ingredients, the product will fail. And so how effectively the ingredient helps create a delicious food with the right sensory package is critical.

Compared to pea protein and whole-seed hemp protein, V-70 Hemp Heart Protein offers distinct formulation advantages across flavor, texture, water- and oil-binding capacity and solubility.

Flavor and Texture

The neutral flavor of V-70 Hemp Heart Protein contrasts with that of pea protein, which is derived from split yellow peas and has a strong, vegetative taste. Common descriptors include “grassy,” “beany,” “earthy,” “bitter,” and “chalky.”

Products based on pea protein often include flavor-masking ingredients, which lengthen the ingredients deck, increase the price, and lead to consumer perception of a highly processed product. Although low-calorie sweeteners may mask the flavor of pea protein, they also induce a bitter, metallic taste. In contrast, the neutral flavor of hemp heart protein doesn’t require masking agents.

Traditional hemp seed protein has been described as earthy, nutty, or grassy, and it displays a dark green color. V-70 Hemp Heart Protein, however, is made using a proprietary process and is a neutrally flavored, near-white colored, flowable powder from the hemp seed.

Water- and Oil-Binding Capacity

Early evaluators of V-70 Hemp Heart Protein report that hemp heart protein displays a much better water- and oil-binding capacity than pea protein. So, it creates a more moist product without the use of supplemental ingredients to bind with water or oil. V-70 is not fully water soluble but is suspendable and emulsifies well.

The Takeaway

Our V-70 Hemp Heart Protein helps plant-based foods formulators avoid ingredient deck bloat and confusion. Derived from a proprietary process, this 70% protein is complete with all nine essential amino acids, high in edestin (the primary protein in egg whites) and albumin (both globular proteins), easily digestible and not a major allergen.

Remember that hemp heart protein is not the green hemp protein you’ve been putting in your smoothies!

From a sensory standpoint, hemp heart protein is a much more appealing ingredient.

Across dairy and meat analogs and nutrition drink powders, choose V-70 Hemp Heart Protein to deliver complete plant-based protein with uniquely functional formulation, flavor and nutrition profiles, as well as other critical health characteristics.


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