Hemp milk, made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa, is gaining popularity – and for a good reason. It has fewer calories than a few other plant-based milk varieties. It is replete with essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, and may help reduce the risk of heart disease, strengthen bones, and improve skin health. It is also easy to make at home, allowing you to control what flavors and ingredients you want in your milk.
In this article, you will learn more about the science-backed health benefits of hemp milk, its potential risks, and how to prepare it at home. Keep reading.
In This Article
What Is Hemp Milk?
“Hemp milk has joined the plant-based milk scene and is being found to provide some unique benefits that other milk alternatives may not,” remarks Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet.
Hemp milk is produced from the seeds of hemp, a cannabis plant. It has a nutty flavor, earthy undertones, and a creamy texture. But the difference between marijuana and hemp lies in their tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.
Dr. Shauna Hatcher, a certified nutritionist, says, “Hemp is legally classified as a cannabis plant containing 0.3 percent or less THC, whereas marijuana is defined as a cannabis plant containing more than 0.3 percent THC.”
The nutritional profile of hemp milk is mostly similar to that of other dairy-free options but is different in a few respects. Know more in the next section.
Nutritional Profile Of Hemp Milk
Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist, says one cup (250g) of original hemp milk contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 130
- Protein: 4g
- Fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 20g
- Fiber: 1g
- Sugar: 15g
“Hemp milk is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and zinc,” adds Dr. Chacon. Since hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, their milk contains these nutrients as well (1). It contains about 30% of the recommended daily vitamin D ratio and a good amount of calcium and iron (2).
How can the nutrients in hemp milk benefit your health? We discuss its six major health benefits in the next section.
6 Potential Health Benefits Of Hemp Milk
1. Has All Essential Amino Acids
Protein is made of 20 amino acids. Of these, nine are essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. A study found that hemp seed extracts contain all the nine essential amino acids (3). Therefore, these seeds contain complete protein (a source that gives all essential amino acids).
2. May Help Reduce Cholesterol Levels
The fatty acids in hemp milk help reduce cholesterol levels. Rebecca Kerkenbush, a registered dietitian with over 20 years of expertise, says, “Linoleic acid (LA or omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA or omega-3) are healthy essential fatty acids (unsaturated fat). Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat can lower cholesterol levels.”
The ratio of LA to ALA in hempseed extracts lies between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered ideal in a healthy diet (3).
3. May Improve Heart Health
Hemp seeds and milk have an essential amino acid called arginine. Arginine is an integral part of the production of nitric oxide (NO), which plays a major role in circulatory system health (3).
The C-reactive protein (CRP) produced by the liver (due to inflammation) is associated with cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). A study found that consuming arginine-rich foods may help reduce CRP levels in the blood, reducing the risk of CVDs (4).
Besides, a study found that a diet high in linoleic acid may decrease total cholesterol levels by 15% and LDL cholesterol by 22% in middle-aged male subjects. This also helps protect against heart disease (3).
4. May Help Fight Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Hemp milk available commercially is usually fortified with vitamin B12. So, as Dr. Chacon suggested, it is a good source of this vitamin.
Adequate intake of vitamin B12 may help avoid the risk of
- Low platelet, white blood cell, and red blood cell counts
- Megaloblastic anemia (identified by large, abnormally nucleated red blood cells)
- Glossitis (inflammation) of the tongue
- Palpitations (abnormal heart rate or rhythm)
- Pale skin
5. May Improve Bone Health
Commercial hemp milk is fortified to be a good source of calcium, an important mineral for several bodily functions. For example, calcium intake helps strengthen bones, teeth, and muscles, and improves blood flow in the blood vessels. It also helps release hormones and enzymes responsible for almost all bodily functions (6).
“According to national nutrition studies, a majority of individuals are not obtaining enough calcium to build and maintain strong bones,” remarks Melissa Collins, a food scientist at Perfect Brew. “Calcium in enhanced hemp milk can help you keep your bones strong and healthy and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening condition that can lead to fractures,” she adds.
6. May Improve Skin Health
The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hemp milk support the skin’s immune response. These unsaturated fatty acids show promise as safe adjunctive treatments for skin disorders, including atopic dermatitisi XAn inflammatory, itchy skin condition usually manifests as a rash on the arms and behind the knees. , psoriasisi X A non-contagious autoimmune disorder where skin cells accumulate and develop into scales and dry, itchy areas. , acne vulgaris, systemic lupus erythematosusi XA persistent condition when the immune system attacks itself, which leads to fatigue and joint pain. (an autoimmune disease), and melanomai XA severe type of skin cancer that can occur anywhere on the body and originates from melanin-producing cells. and non-melanoma skin cancer. Besides, they were also found to promote wound healing (7).
The skin’s epidermal layer actively metabolizes polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consequently, a study suggested that an omega-6 fatty acid deficiency can cause scaly skin and excessive water loss through the epidermis (8). Similarly, omega-3 fatty acids offer photoprotection and reduce the risk of skin diseases caused due to UV rays (9).
While hemp milk has some important benefits, it also may pose potential risks. What are they?
Potential Risks Of Hemp Milk
Hemp-based food products are considered less allergenic than those from other edible seeds (10). However, there is not enough scientific evidence to back this claim.
Rebecca Kerkenbush says, “As with all foods, there is a chance that one may be allergic to hemp seeds. However, hemp milk is soy-free, gluten-free, and lactose-free. It may be suitable for those that avoid dairy products or are vegan.” This suggests that hemp milk is generally safe for consumption.
Many plant-based milk options are available on the market now. How does hemp milk compare with them?
Is Hemp Milk Better Than Other Dairy-Free Options?
As stated, hemp milk is naturally gluten-free and contains fewer calories per serving than most other non-dairy options (11). It is also the only plant-based milk that is a complete protein source.
So, hemp milk could be the right fit for you if you prefer a nuttier, earthier flavor and better benefits.
Making hemp milk at home is easy, and you can also add flavors of your choice. Continue reading to know what goes into making this plant-based milk.
Making Hemp Milk At Home
What You Will Need
(Makes 8 cups)
- 1 cup of hulled hemp seeds
- 6-8 cups of water
- 2 pinches of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of honey/maple syrup or2 pitted black dates for sweetness
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- Whip up the hemp seeds, water, salt, and any other add-ins you like in a high-speed blender for about a minute or until the mixture seems smooth without lumps.
- Taste the milk and adjust it to your taste.
- You can either strain it or serve it as is. If straining, use a nut milk filter or a thin cloth.
To add some flavor to your milk, use
- 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder for chocolate milk
- ½ cup of fresh berries for berry milk
Reduce the amount of water for a more creamy consistency or if you want to whip up a smoothie. You can store the milk in a sealed container for five days.
Note: Homemade version of hemp milk does not contain nutrients like calcium and vitamin D otherwise available in fortified hemp milk.
Infographic: How To Use Hemp Milk?
Hemp milk is loaded with healthy fats and proteins. It is the best alternative for those allergic to cow milk protein and lactose, and you can use it in many ways for various recipes. Click on the infographic below to learn how to use hemp milk.
Hemp milk is a delicious, vegan, lactose-free, and nutritious alternative to whole cow milk. It is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds. Hemp milk benefits range from strengthening bones to promoting heart health. It may help lower blood cholesterol levels and is good for replenishing your vitamin B12 levels. You can substitute regular cow milk with hemp milk in smoothies, breakfast cereals, or coffee. However, it is not recommended to consume it in excess as hemp milk may trigger allergic reactions. Consult your doctor if you experience any adverse effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better: hemp or almond milk?
Hemp milk is a better choice when compared to almond milk. This is because hemp milk has more protein content than almond milk.
Is hemp milk better than soy milk?
Hemp milk is almost similar to soy milk in terms of its calorie and protein content. However, hemp milk also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that further benefit health.
Is hemp milk healthier than oat milk?
Oat milk is high in fiber and carbohydrates, whereas hemp milk is rich in fats and protein. Both the varieties of milk have their own set of benefits. The choice entirely depends on the individual’s needs and health condition.
Is hemp milk good for sleep?
Yes, hemp milk aids in promoting sleep quality because of its melatonin content (a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle).
- Hemp milk is a good source of vitamins A, D, and B12 and minerals like phosphorus and zinc.
- It contains essential amino acids, reduces cholesterol levels, improves heart, bone, and skin health, and may combat vitamin B12 deficiency.
- However, it may cause allergic reactions in some.
- Hemp milk is free of gluten, soy, and lactose. It is ideal for vegans and those who don’t consume dairy products.
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- The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed
- Canapa sativa L. and Moringaoleifera as Naturally Functional Beverages: Innovative Trends
- The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed
- Association between dietary arginine and C-reactive protein
- Vitamin B12 – Health Professional Fact Sheet
- Calcium – Consumer
- Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
- Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites
- Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport
- Production digestibility and allergenicity of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) protein isolates
- The Seed of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional Quality and Potential Functionality for Human Health and Nutrition