By Tanya Silverman
Soy, rice, almond, oat, chia seed, and flax seed are going to have to make room on the shelf for one more milk substitute: hemp.
Though hemp is a product more often associated with marijuana and homemade necklaces than diet supplementation, it is in fact a healthy option that might be a good choice for you.
Photo courtesy of Wiros
It’s Not Weed Milk
The beverage is created out of the seeds from the hemp plant, which are edible and contain virtually no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Before the finished hemp milk product is packaged into cartons, it is initially created by dissolving crushed hemp seeds into water; the solid residue is then strained out from the liquid.
Hemp milk has only been sold in the United States over the past few years, and currently American manufacturers still have to import hemp seeds from Europe and Canada, as they are illegal to grow domestically. For better or worse, drinking it will not produce any psychoactive effects on consumers.
It’s Actually Good For You
Along with repeatedly assuring the public that hemp milk is not marijuana and has absolutely no drug value and will never show up on a drug test, Living Harvest, based in Oregon, prides their line of Tempt hemp food products as being “Nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan [and] gluten-free.” Hemp milk even surpasses soy, rice, almond, wheat, and dairy milk for being “allergen-free.”
So how healthy is hemp milk? BreakThru Radio consulted Amy Shapiro, a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist of Real Nutrition NYC on the legitimacy of this supposedly salubrious beverage.
“It’s a way to get in some fatty acids, amino acids, protein and calcium,” and is also a source of “fiber, vitamins and minerals.”
In addition to being a component of an overall healthy diet, Shapiro recommends hemp milk as a solution to avoiding the over-consumption of soy, the most typical cows’ milk replacement. Lately, controversy over soy has been circulating, such as if it contains estrogen and whether males should consume it.
Tempt brand hemp milk
Photo courtesy of veganbaking.net
Soy aside, hemp milk contains the vital Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which people must consume through food products because our bodies are unable to produce them on their own. Many reports and studies list and explain the extensive nutritional benefits of Omega-3 and Omega-6, but to put it briefly, these polyunsaturated fats both work to prevent disease, and are helpful for brain function, growth, and development. An ordinary means to obtain these fatty acids is through fish, but for vegetarians, or people who hate fish or are disgusted by fish oil pills, hemp milk offers an alternative.
Hemp milk manufacturers tend to boast the high-quality protein in their product. However, an eight-ounce serving usually offers only two grams of this vital dietary component. Even if this low quantity is not a good sole source of protein, Shapiro considers the greater picture: “There are potential amino acids in those proteins, so it’s probably a good building block.”
In terms of comparing the different types of milk replacements, Shapiro states that because all of them tend to be fortified, they will provide people with enough benefits if they cannot or do not drink dairy milk.
Omega acids, plant protein, vitamins and minerals being explored, it can be concluded that hemp milk is quite healthy for a number of reasons.
It’s Waiting For You to Buy It
Even though hemp milk has started to show up on store shelves, it still has not gained widespread popularity. Not everyone is a huge fan of how it tastes, and right now it’s being priced higher than soy and other milk-alternatives.
“People know what almonds taste like, they know what rice tastes like. They don’t really know what hemp seeds taste like.” Amy Shapiro points out that the experimental factor of hemp milk could turn people off.
This specialized product is not something a shopper can currently purchase at a 7-11, but mainstream natural food markets like Whole Foods stock hemp milk, as do some local stores. Over in Arcata, California, the natural food market, North Coast Co-Op, has been providing customers with hemp milk, along with hemp waffles, granola, protein mixes and hemp seeds that could go on salad or cereals. However, up the hill of this small town, Wildberries Marketplace notes that hemp milk has not been a huge seller.
Vegan bakeries have become more common throughout America, but they have not really adapted to incorporating hemp milk into their cruelty-free cookies or cakes. They do not need to steer into the hemp milk direction when they have hemp-free recipes that work already. According to New Jersey’s Avenue Bake Shop, soy and rice milk work better in their concoctions because they have milder, more neutral flavors, and hemp milk is not as readily available for commercial use as the others.
Just Try It!
The concept of Hemp Milk may sound intriguing, being drug-free, healthy and also a natural food novelty.
A glass of hemp milk alone is filling, and could accompany a baked good or peanut butter sandwich. For those who become fans, they can go on to add it to foods like cereal, smoothies or oatmeal. The hemp milk universe can further be navigated by means of Tempt’s vanilla and chocolate versions of this drink, not to mention their creative variety of ice cream flavors. Homemade hemp milk can be easily concocted by combining some hemp seeds and water into a blender and then filtering the liquid.
Hemp to the Future
Perhaps this niche vegan drink could grow to be more prevalent in the future. Hemp milk is beneficial for our well-being, has a particular taste, and works to dispel the pigeonholed stereotype of the multifaceted hemp plant being utilized just for drug use.