Evaluating the quality of protein from hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) products through the use of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score method

J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Nov 24;58(22):11801-7. doi: 10.1021/jf102636b. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


The macronutrient composition and the quality of protein of hemp seed and products derived from hemp seed grown in Western Canada were determined. Thirty samples of hemp products (minimum 500 g), including whole hemp seed, hemp seed meal from cold-press expelling, dehulled, or shelled, hemp seed and hemp seed hulls, were obtained from commercial sources. Proximate analysis, including crude protein (% CP), crude fat (% fat) and fiber, as well as full amino acid profiles, were determined for all samples. Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) measurements, using a rat bioassay for protein digestibility and the FAO/WHO amino acid requirement of children (2-5 years of age) as reference, were conducted on subsets of hemp products. Mean (±SD) percentage CP and fat were 24.0(2.1) and 30.4(2.7) for whole hemp seed, 40.7(8.8) and 10.2(2.1) for hemp seed meal, and 35.9(3.6) and 46.7(5.0) for dehulled hemp seed. The percentage protein digestibility and PDCAAS values were 84.1-86.2 and 49-53% for whole hemp seed, 90.8-97.5 and 46-51% for hemp seed meal, and 83.5-92.1 and 63-66% for dehulled hemp seed. Lysine was the first limiting amino acid in all products. Removal of the hull fraction improved protein digestibility and the resultant PDCAAS value. The current results provide reference data in support of protein claims for hemp seed products and provide evidence that hemp proteins have a PDCAAS equal to or greater than certain grains, nuts, and some pulses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis*
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Cannabis / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Digestion*
  • Humans
  • Plant Proteins / analysis*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Seeds / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Plant Proteins