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Hemp Milk: Nutrition, Benefits and How to Make It

Health + Wellness
KarpenkovDenis / iStock / Getty Images

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Hemp milk is a popular plant-based alternative to cow's milk.


It's made from whole hemp seeds and is rich in high-quality plant protein, healthy fats and minerals.

Drinking hemp milk may benefit skin health and protect against heart disease.

This article discusses hemp milk, its nutrition, benefits, uses and how to make your own.

What Is Hemp Milk?

Hemp milk is made by blending water with the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.

This plant is also used to produce marijuana. However, hemp milk and other products made from hemp seeds do not cause mind-altering effects like marijuana and only contain trace amounts of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (1, 2).

Hemp milk has an earthy, nutty flavor and a creamy consistency. It can be used in place of cow's milk in, for example, smoothies, coffee and cereal.

While hemp milk can be made from just seeds and water, many commercial varieties contain sweeteners, salt or thickeners as well.

Due to the growing popularity of plant-based milk, hemp milk can be found in most grocery stores and online. You can also make it at home.

Summary

Hemp milk is made by blending hemp seeds with water. It is widely available and can be used in place of cow's milk in most recipes.

Hemp Milk Nutrition

Hemp milk is highly nutritious and loaded with proteins and healthy fats.

In fact, it has more protein and healthy fats than other popular plant-based types of milk, including rice and almond milk (3, 4).

Compared to whole cow's milk, hemp milk has fewer calories, less protein and carbs but roughly the same amount of fat (5).

One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened hemp milk contains approximately (6):

  • Calories: 83
  • Carbs: 1.3 grams
  • Protein: 4.7 grams
  • Fat: 7.3 grams
  • Calcium: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 7% of the DV

In addition to these naturally occurring nutrients, commercial hemp milk is often fortified with calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B12 and D. However, it may also contain added sugar, salt, thickeners or other additives (7).

Most of the fat in hemp milk is unsaturated essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), which are essential for building new tissue and membranes in your body (8).

What's more, hemp milk provides protein that your body can easily digest and use. It's one of few plant-based complete proteins, as it contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need from food (9, 10).

Finally, hemp milk is naturally free of soy, lactose and gluten, making it a good option for people who need or want to avoid these components.

Summary

Hemp milk has more healthy fats than most other types of plant-based milk and is considered a complete protein. It's a good option for those who avoid soy, lactose or gluten.

May Provide Health Benefits

Studies on hemp seeds and hemp oil suggest that there are several health benefits from eating foods made from the hemp plant.

Since hemp milk is made from hemp seeds, it may theoretically offer similar benefits, though research specifically on the benefits of hemp milk is lacking.

May Promote Skin Health

Hemp contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in an ideal ratio, which is between 2:1 and 3:1 (9).

Getting balanced amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 from foods can support your skin's immune response to inflammation and aging (11, 12).

One four-week study in 20 people with eczema found that taking two tablespoons (30 ml) of hemp oil a day significantly improved skin dryness and itchiness (13).

In another study in over 4,000 women, those who reported a higher dietary intake of linoleic acid (omega-6) were less likely to have dry or thinning skin compared to those who ate less of the fatty acid (14).

Since hemp milk is rich in omega-6 and omega-3, drinking it regularly may promote skin health.

May Protect Against Heart Disease

Hemp contains nutrients that may prevent heart disease.

Specifically, hemp is rich in the amino acid arginine, which your body needs to create nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels and maintain a healthy blood pressure (15, 16).

Getting adequate arginine may also lower your blood levels of the inflammatory C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP are associated with higher risks of heart disease (17, 18).

One study in over 13,000 adults found that those with the highest dietary intake of arginine were 30% less likely to have dangerously elevated levels of CRP compared to those who consumed less arginine (17).

Consuming arginine-rich hemp products may help maintain optimal blood levels of nitric oxide and CRP, leading to a lower risk of heart disease (15).

Summary

Hemp contains essential fatty acids that may improve inflammatory skin conditions and promote skin health. It's also rich in arginine, a nutrient that may protect against heart disease.

How to Use Hemp Milk

Hemp milk can be used in place of cow's milk and added to your diet in many ways.

It is free of soy, gluten and lactose and a good choice for those who avoid dairy or follow a vegan diet.

Hemp milk can be consumed on its own or added to hot and cold cereal, baked goods and smoothies.

Due to its creamy consistency and protein content, hemp milk is excellent for making lattes, cappuccinos and other coffee drinks.

Keep in mind that although hemp milk can be used as a substitute for cow's milk, it has a very different and nuttier flavor.

Summary

Hemp milk can replace cow's milk and is a good option for those who avoid soy, gluten or lactose. It can be added to recipes that call for milk or consumed on its own.

How to Make Your Own Hemp Milk

It's incredibly easy to make your own hemp milk.

By doing so, you can choose your ingredients and avoid unnecessary additives or thickeners that are otherwise found in many commercial varieties.

However, homemade hemp milk may not contain as many nutrients as store-bought fortified options.

To make your own hemp milk, combine 1/2 to 1 cup (68–136 grams) of raw hemp seeds with 3–4 cups (710–946 ml) of water in a high-speed blender and blend for one minute or until smooth.

For additional flavor or sweetness, you can add sea salt, vanilla extract, maple syrup, dates or honey to taste.

You can strain your hemp milk using a cheesecloth, nut milk bag or very thin towel for a smoother result. Store hemp milk in a glass jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Summary

You can make your own hemp milk by combining 1/2 to 1 cup (68–136 grams) of hemp seeds with 3–4 cups (710–946 ml) of water in a blender. Keep in mind that the nutrition of homemade hemp milk differs from that of fortified commercial varieties.

The Bottom Line

Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds and water and can easily be created at home.

It's lactose-, soy- and gluten-free and naturally rich in high-quality plant protein and essential fatty acids that may promote skin and heart health.

Some commercial varieties are also fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Overall, hemp milk can be an incredibly nutritious addition to a balanced diet.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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