Is Hemp Milk the Milk Alternative For You?5 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Actress and owner of natural health company Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow, is a fan of making her own hemp milk, one of the many plant-based milk alternatives out on the market now. Hemp milk is said to have a mild nutty flavor or even grassy taste and not be as creamy as other milk alternatives, like almond milk. To spruce up her hemp milk a bit and balance some of the grassy flavor, Gwyneth adds dates, which are naturally sweet and nutrient-rich, and coconut oil.
(You can check out her homemade hemp milk recipe here).
Hemp milk is made from whole hemp seeds. And the hemp plant, called Cannabis sativa, is the same plant from which marijuana is made. However, unlike marijuana, hemp contains just small trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that gets you high. In other words, you will get stoned from smoking marijuana but not from smoking hemp.
To give you some perspective, “It is important to note that hemp is not used as a recreational drug, nor could it be. Hemp has as low as 0.5 percent of the psychotropic chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the North American Industrial Hemp Council. Marijuana plants used to get high typically contain around 15 percent THC, according to National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC),” according to this source.
And if you buy hemp milk at the store (or other hemp products such as hemp protein powder), they will most likely not even have those small trace amounts of THC. If you are purchasing hemp milk (as opposed to making your own at home), be aware that it will likely contain certain additives such as thickening agents. It’s important to look at the ingredients and nutrition facts if you are buying milk alternatives at the grocery store and be mindful of added sugars.
So what are some of the potential benefits of hemp milk?
Hemp milk may be good for your heart.
Hemp milk is a great source of essential fatty acids that may aid in heart health.
“Hempseed has an excellent content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These compounds have beneficial effects on our cardiovascular health,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
A registered dietician stated in this report that just one cup of hemp milk can provide nearly an entire day’s recommended intake of omega-3s. So a cup of hemp milk in your morning smoothie, oatmeal or latte may be a great way to ensure you get enough of this essential nutrient.
Omega-3s may help with heart health by:
- Reducing triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood
- Reducing the risk of developing an irregular heart beat
- Slowing down the buildup of plaque in the arteries
- Lowering blood pressure
- Easing inflammation (which may also help prevent other health issues such as depression and cancer)
Omega-6s are also a type of polyunsaturated fat, mainly found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. According to Harvard Health, omega-6s “lower harmful LDL cholesterol and boost protective HDL. They help keep blood sugar in check by improving the body's sensitivity to insulin.” Furthermore, some studies have shown that rates of heart disease decreased when the consumption of omega-6s increased.
Another nutrient hemp milk contains that may be beneficial to the heart and you may not be familiar with is an amino acid called arginine. Your body needs this material to produce nitric oxide, and nitric oxide helps the blood vessels relax and helps with maintaining a healthy blood pressure (all of which are good for heart health).
Hemp milk is also cholesterol free. So if you are currently battling metabolic issues, like heart disease or hypertension, hemp milk may be a great milk alternative for you as opposed to cow’s milk.
(Hemp milk is also free of soy and gluten, so it may be a good option for people who need to avoid these things in their diet).
As always, speak with a doctor or competent healthcare professional about what foods you are including in your diet, especially if you have any existing health issues.
Hemp milk is a source of ‘complete’ plant-based protein.
A complete protein, also called a whole protein, contains all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. There are nine essential amino acids (listed here) that the body needs to build and repair protein tissues in the body. Most complete proteins are animal proteins. But if you are vegan (or maybe even vegetarian, depending on whether you eat eggs or not), of course, animal protein is not something you would include in your diet.
Hemp milk may keep your skin glowing.
The essential fatty acids discussed above are not just good for heart health, but they may also help keep your skin healthy. These nutrients may alleviate symptoms associated with skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin disorders. Omega-3s and 6s also just play a role in normal skin function and appearance.
Downsides to hemp milk?
“Hemp milk is expensive, since it must be imported. One disadvantage to all alternative milks, according to registered dietitian Monica Reinagel, is that they often contain added salt, which your toddler [some toddlers may be given hemp milk if they cannot tolerate cow’s milk or soy] doesn't need, in addition to added sugar, to improve their flavor,” according to this report.
Again, look for store-bought hemp milks with no added sugar and be mindful of the sodium content. Consult your pediatrician before selecting a milk alternative for your infant or child.
And as always, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have any existing health issues, consult a competent healthcare professional about which milk alternative is best for you.
Have you tried hemp milk? Do you like it? If not, what is your choice of milk alternative?
Enjoy your healthy life!
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