Sustainability

Hemp milk benefits – is it good for health?

Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds and joins the growing list of plant-based milks on the shelves. It has wide appeal, being suitable for vegan diets and those intolerant to lactose or nuts.

It has a distinctly nutty taste but is similar to cow’s milk in consistency and creaminess. This makes it popular with coffee fans. It is also packed with nutrition and could play a role in improving certain health conditions.

What is hemp milk?

Hemp milk is made by blending just two ingredients – hemp seeds and water. The hemp plant, or cannabis sativa, is the same plant grown to extract marijuana. The hemp seeds, though, contain no or only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive element of cannabis. Hemp milk, therefore, will not affect your mental state but could positively impact physical health.

Milk produced with hemp seeds and water alone is nutty and creamy. The taste and consistency can be changed by adding plant syrups or flavourings, such as vanilla. Many commercial hemp milks contain sweeteners and agents to create a thicker pour.

Some may also be fortified with vitamins and minerals, like B12 and calcium. But if you’re looking for purity, it is surprisingly easy to make a natural, pure version at home.

Nutritional content

Hemp seeds are a natural source of easy to digest protein, so the milk is also rich in protein. It has a higher protein content than versions made from almond or rice, for instance. It also outweighs chia seeds in terms of protein.

Hemp milk doesn’t match cow’s milk for protein levels but is lower in calories, carbohydrates and fats. However, the fats it contains are mainly unsaturated essential fatty acids. These include omega 3 and omega 6 which are vital building blocks for new membranes and body tissue.

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Hemp oil and hemp milk are both made from seeds of the hemp plant. It’s possible then to look at the health benefits of hemp oil and apply them to milk. The oil will, of course, be more concentrated, so the nutritional values of milk will be present at a lower intensity:

  • Low in saturated fat
  • High in polyunsaturated fat
  • Contains Vitamins A and D
  • Source of omega 3 and 6
  • Full of essential amino acids

Hemp milk for healthy skin

The presence of omega 3 and 6 in hemp seeds may promote healthy skin and tackle redness, inflammation and ageing. Studies have shown that people with eczema reported improvements to dry and itchy skin after regularly taking hemp oil.

Omega 6 supports healthy skin, and a study shows that women taking more omega 6 fatty acid in their diet reported a lower incidence of dry, thinning skin than those with a lower intake. With its essential omega fatty acids, hemp milk appears to promote healthy skin when taken regularly.

Hemp milk for a healthy heart

Hemp contains all the amino acids needed for a healthy functioning body. Notably, one of these is arginine, which creates nitric oxide. In turn, this relaxes the blood vessels and helps to keep blood pressure at a healthy level. High blood pressure is a major contributory factor in heart disease and stroke.

Arginine may also reduce the inflammatory C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP in the blood are also linked to a greater risk of heart disease. Hemp milk, a source of arginine, may help promote healthy blood pressure, reduce CRP and lower the risk of heart disease.

Make your own

Ingredients

  • 100 grams hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
  • 1-litre water

Flavourings (if required)

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

It is so easy to make hemp milk by blending just two ingredients – hemp seeds and water. Soaking is not required, so it can be made in a few minutes. Simply place the hemp seeds, water and any extra flavours or sweeteners in a high-speed blender for one minute. It should ideally be a smooth and creamy consistency.

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Hemp milk doesn’t need straining but might contain a little pulp. To remove it, pour the milk from the blender through a muslin cloth into a jug. Then transfer to a glass bottle or container.

The fresh hemp milk can be stored in the fridge for up to five days. Any extra or leftover milk can also be frozen in ice cube trays and added later to smoothies.

Experiment by adding alternative sweeteners and flavours such as:

  • Honey
  • Agave syrup
  • Cacao powder
  • 2-3 pitted dates
  • Matcha tea

Takeaways

Hemp milk, whether homemade or shop-bought, can be an important addition to your diet. Its high levels of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals can benefit overall health. But its active ingredients have been shown to contribute towards healthy heart function and improved skin quality.

Try hemp milk as a replacement for your regular plant-based drink and you may benefit nutritionally in many ways.

Claire McKenna

Claire McKenna is a content writer and editor with a background in consumer, medical and lifestyle publishing. Away from work she ushers at a theatre, does yoga challenges and loves a good podcast.

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