We know milk does a body good, but … hemp milk?
There was a time not so long ago that when you bought milk, your choice wouldn’t stretch beyond full-fat, skimmed or semi-skimmed.
But not any more. A whole industry has sprung up to offer a plethora of alternative milks — from almond and coconut to hemp and soya.
Can hemp milk — which calls to mind a certain drug — be good for you?
Hemp milk or hemp seed milk, is a drink made from hemp seeds that are soaked and ground into water, yielding a creamy nutty beverage.
It may sound a bit hippy-ish or even against the rules, but hemp hearts are completely safe, legal in all 50 states and no medical-use card is required.
Hemp seeds contain no THC (or if so, only very trace amounts), the psychoactive substance found in the related varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp seeds contain a three-to-one ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids and other nutrients.
The nutritional profile is bigger than protein though. Hemp seeds also contain magnesium, phytosterols (plant-based, similar to cholesterol, but shown to help reduce cholesterol in humans), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), beta-carotene (half of vitamin A that provides the orange color in carrots and pumpkins), calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and thiamine (vitamin B1).
Hemp milk also contains 10 essential amino acids, making it a good vegan source of protein as hemp protein does not contain phytates, enzyme inhibitors found in some soy protein that can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals. Hemp protein may also be more digestible than soy protein because unlike soy, it does not contain oligosaccharides, complex sugars that can cause flatulence if not properly broken down during digestion.
See also: Ten Eye-opening facts about hemp
There are several breeds of the cannabis plant, and the ones that contain low or nonexistent concentrations of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are used for hemp seed, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper and even fuel.
The seeds themselves have a definite nutty taste and look much like cooked quinoa, except they’re raw. They’re great on salads, in granola bars, and can even be made into hemp butter for those who are allergic to nuts. They’re also an excellent source for non-animal protein – two tablespoons offers nearly 7g of protein!
If that wasn’t enough, you can also make hemp milk! It’s another frugal alternative to animal milk, great if you’re not a fan of coconut, and very rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients.
3 Reasons to Try Hemp Milk
1. You will NOT get high
Hemp food products — like hemp seeds, hemp protein and hemp milk — come from the Cannibus sativa plant. It’s the same plant that marijuana comes from, but when you eat hemp, you’re not getting the “drug” part of the plant, otherwise known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Hemp producers use plants with less than 0.3 percent THC (many guarantee their plants have 0 percent THC). To make milk, hemp seeds are blended with water and then the mixture is filtered.
In other words, you’re not going to be getting stoned on milk!
2. It tastes great
Hemp milk (also called hemp beverage) has a creamy consistency that tends to be a bit thicker than skim milk and other milk alternatives. It’s got a slightly nutty flavor (similar to almond milk).
3. It’s good for you
Hemp seeds are rich in the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA, and several hemp milk companies add additional hemp oil into their hemp beverages — so drinkers get the omega-3 benefits. Research shows that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids each day can help keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Though the type of omega-3 found in hemp isn’t as easily used by the body as the kind found in fish, studies show that it can still provide benefits.
In addition, if you have milk allergies, lactose intolerance or soy allergies, hemp beverage can be a great alternative — as long as you look for a brand that is fortified with calcium/vitamin D and are not depending on it as a major source of protein in your diet. A 1 cup serving of hemp beverage contains around 2 grams of protein (compared to 7 grams per cup in soy milk and nearly 9 grams per cup in nonfat cow’s milk).
Watching your waistline? Be sure to stick with the original or unsweetened versions. Vanilla and chocolate hemp milk often have more sugar added, boosting calories to more than a cup of low-fat or skim milk (aim for around 100 calories or less per cup).
Unsweetened hemp milk also has more fat than other milk alternatives (hemp: 5-6g/cup; soy: 4g/cup; almond: 3g/cup), so plan your daily intake accordingly.
COMMERCIAL HEMP MILK
There aren’t many main stream sources for hemp milk. I may have seen only one brand at Whole Foods and Amazon lists only two. Could it be the negative stigma associate with the term? I assure you, eating hemp will not cause you to fail a urine test.
The ingredients listed in commercial hemp milk are similar to those listed for commercial coconut milk. Like most commercially prepared foods, this is not a good thing.
Another downside to commercial hemp milk is that we don’t know the complete processed involved at the manufacturing facility. High temperatures and modern day processes often damage food, causing those amazing nutrients to be lost in the final product. Fortunately, there’s a healthier and more frugal option.
Make your own hemp milk!
It takes 1 cup of hemp seeds to make one quart of hemp milk. That means you’ll spend $1.14 on hemp seeds and the water is free. Plus no additives or other yucky stuff.
1 cup hemp seeds
4 cups filtered water
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat.
Store in a jar, in the fridge. Shake well before using.
For two cups: ½ cup hemp seeds, 2 cups water
For one cup: ¼ cup hemp seeds, 1 cup hot water
You’ll definitely have to taste this milk as you’re making it.
Some people may not like the bold taste of hemp, but others who drink nut milk regularly may not notice. I thought the ratio of 1:4 with hemp seeds to water was perfect, but feel free to use more or less depending on what you prefer.
Some recipes recommend adding maple syrup or dates to sweeten the milk, but I’d rather not add sugar – in any form – if it’s not necessary. The vanilla extract and cinnamon were a perfect fit for this ratio and made me – a non-nut milk drinker – enjoy a whole glass!
Not every hemp seed will be ground to a pulp, so there’s the option of straining the milk through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth. The pieces weren’t large enough to deter me from drinking it as is, so you may find yourself not having to strain it after all.
See more health benefits and researches about Cannabis/Hemp here.