Non-dairy milk alternatives are gaining popularity – and it’s no surprise why. Around 75 percent of the world’s adult population is lactose intolerant, and approximately 79 million people are vegan. Soy, almond and coconut milk are a few popular alternatives, but hemp milk is another tasty and nutritious alternative to dairy milk.
While many people associate hemp with CBD and cannabis, it’s actually a versatile plant that can be used to make many products, from building materials and textiles to paper, biofuel, and more. Hemp is quite waterwise and fast-growing, which is why it’s such an eco-friendly crop.
In addition to the above uses, it’s also a great food source: hemp seeds are super nutritious. Hemp milk is a plant-based milk made from hemp seeds. While it doesn’t contain CBD, it is full of nutrients and has a very unique flavor.
Here, we let you in on all you need to know about hemp milk, from its nutritional value to how you can make your own.
What is hemp milk?
Hemp milk is a non-dairy drink made from two simple ingredients: water and hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and are a great source of protein, making them incredibly nutritious.
Because of this, it is also full of protein and fatty acids. Some commercial brands may fortify their products by adding even more vitamins and calcium to increase its nutritional value.
Hemp milk is just hemp seeds and water. But store-bought versions may have added sweeteners and thickening agents. It can easily be made at home, but if you’re not up to it, you can find it online and in most grocery stores.
How can you use it?
You can use hemp milk the same way you would use cow’s milk to other plant-based milk types. Its creamy consistency makes it a great addition to coffee and smoothies, or you can drink it as is.
If you are following a vegan diet or are lactose intolerant, you can also use hemp milk as a replacement for cow’s milk in recipes where it is required.
It is important to note that hemp milk tastes different from cow’s milk, and has a more nutty, earthy flavor profile. The taste is not that far off from soy or rice milk, but the texture is smoother and thicker than soy milk. Shifting from cow’s milk to hemp milk may take some getting used to.
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Are there any benefits to using hemp milk?
Ample research has been conducted on the potential health benefits of consuming hemp seeds and hemp seed oil. But research on the benefits of hemp milk is lacking. However, it is made from hemp seeds. So it could provide similar benefits.
Here are some of the benefits of hemp milk.
1) It is rich in healthy fats
Hemp milk contains less protein than other plant-based milk types, but it is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids promote heart health as well as brain function. Fish is high in omega 3, but for vegans and vegetarians, making it a great alternative to get in all those necessary nutrients.
2) It has low allergenicity
This means that the likelihood of you being allergic to hemp milk is slim (but not impossible).
3) It has fewer calories
It has fewer calories than dairy milk, so it is a great option for those who are health-conscious. However, this only applies to unsweetened versions. Some commercial brands may be more calorific due to added ingredients. Always look at the ingredient list.
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4) It’s a great source of nutrients
Most manufacturers add extra nutrients to improve its nutritional value. These include zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.
The Dangers of Hemp Milk
OK, maybe “dangers’ is not the right word. But there are certain precautions you should take before diving into the world of this dairy alternative. While it is low on the allergenicity scale, there’s still the potential for some issues. Try a little at first and see how you react. People who are allergic tend to break out in hives or a rash. If you are taking anticoagulants, consult your physician. A University of Michigan study showed that certain oils in hemp can increase bleeding in those on anticoagulants medications.
How to make hemp milk
All you need is a blender, cheesecloth, water, and raw hemp seeds. Blend three to four cups of water with half a cup of hemp seeds until smooth. Strain the mixture with your cheesecloth and viola! You can add a little salt or vanilla for flavor. For added sweetness, you can also blend in some dates or honey. If you want a thicker consistency, you can skip the straining step and store the milk as is.
Store your milk in a sterilized glass container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Hemp is an extremely waterwise, versatile plant that can be used to make rope, textiles, building materials – and yes, even plant-based milk! Hemp milk is a tasty alternative to cow’s milk. This plant-based milk is in fatty acids and can easily form part of a healthy diet.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer based in Cape Town, South Africa and she has written for publications such as Healthline, Greatist, and Psych Central to name a few.