Food Review: Hemp Protein Smoothie Plus Greens
I was asked by a few of our followers to provide a review on Manitoba Harvest’s new Hemp Protein Smoothie Plus Greens product. So here we go…
There are three flavours to choose from: Chocolate, Mixed Berry, and Vanilla Chai. I am currently trialing the Vanilla Chai product. The protein powder combines Manitoba Harvest’s HempPro 70 powder with organic coconut sugar, an organic greens blend (spinach, kale and broccoli), and organic vanilla chai flavour. A 30 gram serving (4 tbsp) provides 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat with 0.6 grams coming from omega 3 fatty acids (ALA), 10 grams of carbohydrate with 7 grams coming from the coconut sugar, 15 grams of protein, and a good source of iron!
I like that this product contains only 4 ingredients, without complex fillers or additives. Although I am not motivated or swayed by the use of coconut sugar (which, by the way, is still an added sugar and has no nutritional value nor benefits over plain old sugar beets), I appreciate that Manitoba Harvest avoided the use of artificial or low calorie sweeteners. The protein powder supplement industry is overwhelmingly huge! Finding a protein powder without low calorie sweeteners or even Stevia is near impossible. Side rant - let me explain my personal view on low calorie sweeteners. If I choose to have something sweet, no tricks, I will have the “real deal” - sugar or honey or syrup, whatever it may be. Humans are easily caught up in the mentality of, “this is better for me so I can have more of it”. Rather than, “sugar is not something my body needs but at times it adds to the quality of what I am eating, thus I will moderate my intake and keep portions small”. Which I feel is a more reasonable and accountable approach. There is so much we continue to learn about the effects of low calorie sweeteners within the body - it’s not a black and white issue and at this time, I choose to avoid them.
Seven grams of sugar is equivalent to less than 2 teaspoons. This is less than found in most breakfast cereals, granola bars, flavoured lattes, etc. So if one is to use this as part of a breakfast shake, the added sugar is not an issue. If one were to use this as part of an intense workout recovery, the sugar is actually beneficial and will aid in replacing muscle glycogen stores and muscle recovery. It is important to note, depending on the intensity of the activity, more carbohydrate may be required to replenish glycogen stores. Of course, one should meet individually with a dietitian to figure out just what they need:).
Essential Fatty Acids
When a nutrient is deemed “essential”, this means we must consume it in food forms because the body does not make them. Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are essential and play important roles within the body. We already have access to more than enough omega 6 in the typical North American diet as it is found in many vegetable oils, meats, and processed foods. We generally suck at consuming enough omega 3. One serving of Hemp Protein Smoothie contains 1/2 the recommended intake of omega 3 (ALA) for women and 1/3 for men. We still need to consume more omega 3s from other sources too, including fish, ground flaxseed, and walnuts. However, this is another great source.
I tested the Vanilla Chai powder a few times. On it's own, there is a slightly bitter aftertaste, and I am uncertain as to whether it's left behind by the hemp or the chai. I do appreciate that it is not too sweet nor is the vanilla flavour overbearing. Blending it into a smoothie with frozen mango and unsweetened cashew milk - much better, actually really tasty! I also added 2 tbsp to my hot oats at breakfast and this was also very yummy.
Hemp Protein Smoothie Plus Greens is a great product overall. It is a good source of plant-based protein which will help to satisfy appetite and is a great protein powder option for active vegans. There is little reserach on hemp protein in recovery of athletes and muscle repair, and in this regard whey protein remains cream of the crop. This is not a miracle weight-loss solution and it's not meant to be a meal replacement (nor does Manitoba Harvest advertise it to be). And finally, while the “greens” portion seems desirable and makes for great marketing, it will not add any significant nutritional value and is not to replace whole food forms - eat your veggies! Overall, 4 of 5 stars from me!