With more and more people turning to plant-based diets for health, moral, and environmental reasons, alternatives to dairy milk are becoming increasingly popular. Soy milk and almond milk get the most attention, but another option, hemp milk, is also gaining traction because of its nutritional benefits.
And with hemp agriculture set to explode in the United States (thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill), it’s a safe bet that hemp milk will soon be found on the shelves of national grocery chains and big-box retailers.
But hemp milk can also be made at home, allowing consumers to avoid sweeteners and additives commonly found in commercial brands. Plus, anything you make at home is always less expensive. Who doesn't want healthier options for less money?
What Is Hemp Milk?
Hemp milk is a beverage made from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is defined legally as varieties of Cannabis sativa that contain less than 0.3% THC by weight. Although hemp seeds have little or no cannabinoids and won’t induce a high, they are packed with protein, healthy fats, and essential minerals.
To make hemp milk, the seeds are pulverized, mixed with water, and strained, resulting in a liquid with a texture and flavor that is creamier (and nuttier) than soy milk and almond milk. Commercial varieties often also contain sweeteners and other added ingredients including salt, thickening agents, and added vitamins and minerals. Flavored varieties of hemp milk such as vanilla, coconut, and chocolate are also available.
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Hemp Milk Nutrition Facts
Hemp milk is high in protein and contains all of the essential amino acids necessary for human health. It's also a good source of healthy fats including the unsaturated essential fatty acids omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened hemp milk has about 83 calories, 7.3 grams of fat, and provides 7 percent of the average daily value (DV) of iron, 5 percent of the DV of potassium, and 2 percent of the DV of calcium, according to information from Nutritionix. Commercial brands of hemp milk may also contain other added vitamins and minerals. Check labels for more information.
Benefits of Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds, which, along with hemp seed oil, have known health benefits. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hemp milk can improve immune response and lessen the effects of aging on the skin. Other potential benefits for the skin include research that showed a daily dose of hemp oil lessened the effects of eczema. Another study indicated women with a high dietary intake of linoleic acid had less dryness and thinning of the skin than women receiving less omega-6.
Hemp milk may also have health benefits for your heart. The protein in hemp seed is high in the amino acid arginine, which is necessary for the production of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps blood vessels relax and maintain blood pressure at healthy levels. Arginine may also lower blood levels of inflammatory C-reactive protein, a chemical associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
How to Make Hemp Milk
To make your own healthy and delicious hemp milk at home, add between half a cup to one full cup of whole hemp seeds or hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds) to three or four cups of cool filtered water in a blender. Blend at high speed for one minute or until smooth. Adjust the amount of water and hemp seeds to achieve your preferred consistency.
If desired, a pinch of salt or sweeteners including sugar, honey, maple syrup, or stevia may be added for taste. Vanilla extract or dates may also be blended into the hemp milk for flavor. Strain through a cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove any large particles and to make the hemp milk smoother. Store in the refrigerator in a covered glass container for up to five days.
Give It a Try!
Hemp milk can be a tasty and nutritious alternative to cow’s milk that's high in plant-based protein, healthy fats, and minerals while being free of lactose, soy, and gluten. Enjoy it just as you would any other milk: as a flavorful beverage, to lighten your coffee or tea, over morning cereal, or as an ingredient in your favorite recipes.
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