Hemp and hemp products have gained immense popularity in the past few years, and milk alternatives are new. The combination of both trends, has hemp milk seeing its heyday. Although hemp milk is a relatively newer addition to the long list of hemp-based products, it is capitalizing on the milk alternatives are the ‘plant-based milk is the healthier option’ train. But what are the health benefits of hemp, how healthy is hemp milk? Is it really good for you? Will it cause any harmful effects in your body? We’ll explore all these questions in this article.
Recent studies show that hemp milk can be a great source of antioxidants, as they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, proteins, and fibers. Hemp milk is also rich in vitamin E, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Benefits Of Hemp Milk
- Potential Side-Effects of Hemp Milk
- Is Hemp Milk Better Than Other Plant-Based Milk?
- Is Hemp Milk Safe for Pregnant and Lactating Women?
- Does Hemp Milk Cause Any Psychoactive Effect? Is It Even Legal?
- How To Prepare Hemp Milk at Home?
Benefits Of Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is produced by grinding hemp seeds in water. The result is a white liquid, very similar to cow’s milk in looks and texture, with a nutty, earthy taste and the following unique health benefits :
1.It’s a Good Source of Antioxidant
Hemp milk is rich in antioxidants, including various phenolic compounds (flavonoids), omega-3 fatty acids, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Antioxidants are those substances that neutralize the harmful free radicals from our system. These free radicals are produced through our normal metabolism, and when left unchecked, can cause inflammation. A lack of antioxidants in the body is linked with an increased risk of cancer, dementia, arthritis, premature aging, and other inflammatory conditions.
Omega-3 is also needed to neutralize the over-activity of omega-6 fatty acids, which is associated with the production of inflammation, causing autoimmune diseases like arthritis, SLE, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.
2.Hemp Milk Is Great for Your Heart Health
Hemp milk contains a component called arginine, which is one of the essential amino acids that support healthy heart function. Arginine is needed for the production of nitric oxide (NO), which causes relaxation of blood vessels and thereby helps in regulating blood pressure. Arginine also plays a significant role in maintaining the health of the blood vessels. A deficiency of nitric oxide is linked with hypertension, stroke, hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Arginine also decreases the C-reactive protein (CRP). This reduction is beneficial as a higher level of CRP is related to higher incidences of cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, arginine has been shown to help in fibrinolysis, preventing unnecessary, damaging blood clot formation in the system, especially if you have hypercholesterolemia.
Although there are many good things to be said about hemp milk, we do not advise it to be used as a homeopathic replacement for fibrinolytic agents prescribed by your doctor. It is never a good idea to alter the dosage or stop any medications without consulting your doctor first.
3. It’s a Good Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Hemp milk is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, an important component in maintaining good vision and the protection and maintenance of our nervous system and brain health. Some studies also suggest that maintaining the optimal levels of omega-3 can help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders.
Since Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid and not produced in our body by itself, it must be taken through diet. Typically this is no problem, as omega -3 is most abundantly found in fish. However, for vegans and or vegetarians alike, it is not uncommon to develop a deficiency. This is where Hemp milk shines through, as it can naturally provide much-needed omega -3’s. Although fish-derived omega-3 is more potent than the one derived from plants, it is still better to get it from a plant source than not at all.
4. It Is Easily Digestible
The fats and proteins present in hemp seeds and consequently hemp milk are easily digestible, when compared with other milks. This is especially true If preparing hemp milk at home using hemp seeds as the milk will have a higher fiber content (both soluble and insoluble).
A high fiber diet provides an opportunity for your healthy gut bacteria to flourish, resulting in better digestive health.
5.It Might Be Helpful for Post-Menopausal Women
Studies in ovariectomized rats showed that consumption of hemp seeds for 3 weeks improved hormone levels and also increased the levels of calcium and HDL cholesterol levels in the system. This is important as both calcium and healthy cholesterol levels start declining once a woman hits menopause.
Although more studies in human subjects are needed to say anything conclusively, hemp milk may prove useful, especially in post-menopausal women.
6.It’s Low in Calories
Unfortified hemp milk has zero natural sugars and is very low in calories when compared with regular milk. So if you are on your weight loss journey right now, hemp milk that is not laden with added sugar can prove a better alternative than other nut-based milk or even cow milk.
Potential Side-Effects of Hemp Milk
There aren’t many known side effects of using hemp milk. Some of the possible side-effects and drawbacks of using hemp milk are as follows.
- Hemp Milk Is Not as Nutritionally Rich as Cow Milk: Although hemp milk is rich in many healthy compounds, including (vitamin B1 and B2), it is deficient in many important components when compared with cow’s milk.For example, the calcium and vitamin D content of hemp milk is significantly lower than regular milk. Also, it is deficient in other essential vitamins. Therefore, if you are choosing hemp milk as your milk alternative, make sure to add these vitamins and minerals from other sources to your diet.
- Hemp Allergy: Although rare, some people may be allergic to hemp seeds and consequently allergic to hemp milk. Others may experience abdominal discomfort from certain components in hemp seeds. Tannins, saponins, preservatives, and other agents are just some of the allergens that can be found in the commercial version of this milk.
- Sugar Levels In Storge Bought Versions: Many companies add sugar for taste. If you are watching your sugar intake, or if diabetic, beware of the added sugars. Make sure to read the label well, making sure to note the added sugar and salt.
Is Hemp Milk Better Than Other Plant-Based Milk?
Each plant-based milk has its benefits and drawbacks. But for comparison, hemp milk has a higher content of protein and PUFA content than other cow milk alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and oat milk. It has zero natural sugar and is very low in calories.
oat milk offers a small amount of PUFA, and natural sugars but has a higher carbohydrate content when compared to hemp milk. Soy milk has a good amount of healthy fats and protein. It also has equivalent calories when compared to cow’s milk if that is what you are looking for.
Ultimately, selecting a dairy alternative is a personal choice. Many companies do add vitamins and minerals to their dairy alternatives. It is recommended that you add other foods rich in vitamin D and calcium to your diet, even if your milk is fortified.
Is Hemp Milk Safe for Pregnant and Lactating Women?
The FDA has evaluated the safety of hemp seeds for pregnant and lactating women and found them to be completely safe for their use. Do note that hemp seed is the only hemp-derived product that is safe for pregnant and lactating women. All other Cannabis-based products (including CBD) are not recommended.
Does Hemp Milk Cause Any Psychoactive Effect? Is It Even Legal?
Although hemp seeds are obtained from the same hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) the seeds have no psychoactive effect. Consequently, drinking Hemp milk will not make you fail any drug test or get high…
Hemp is composed of hundreds of different components, but the two major components for all its major effects are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The hemp seeds do not contain CBD and THC, but they can take up some amounts through contact while processing. However, the FDA mentions that even if this happens, the amount of THC and CBD transferred is usually too low to cause any negative effect in anybody, including pregnant and lactating women.
Although hemp milk came into the picture very recently, hemp seeds have been very popularly used in many cuisines worldwide for centuries and are very much legal.
How To Prepare Hemp Milk at Home?
Hemp milk can be very quickly prepared at home. All you need is hemp seed and water. Blend half a cup of hemp seed with 3-4 cups of water in a blender till you get a smooth mixture. Once nicely blended, use a strainer or a cheesecloth to strain the mixture to remove any seed skins. This will make your hemp milk smooth and more milk-like. You can consume it without filtering too. As mentioned above, the unfiltered, homemade hemp milk might prove a better choice as it is rich in fibers.
Homemade hemp milk has a very earthy, nutty taste, and many people don’t find it very pleasant. If that is the case for you, too, you can add flavoring agents of your choice like a simple vanilla extract sugar, honey, or alternative sweeteners to taste.
In conclusion, we can say that hemp milk is indeed an excellent option for you if you are searching for a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. It is loaded with antioxidant properties, rich in omega-3, and very easily digestible.
It can be prepared at home and flavored however you like or bought from the stores. If the latter is chosen, do remember to read the label.