Hemp Milk Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Hemp milk
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Hemp plant-based beverage, commonly called hemp milk, is a dairy alternative that is made by blending hemp seeds (Cannabis sativa) with water. Commercially produced hemp milk may have other ingredients added such as vanilla or other flavorings and sweeteners. Hemp milk may also be fortified with certain vitamins and minerals.

Hemp milk is a creamy, smooth liquid that resembles dairy milk but has a nuttier flavor. People who have a dairy allergy, lactose intolerance, or follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may choose to consume fortified hemp milk to get calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are commonly found in dairy products. People who follow a low-carbohydrate diet may also choose to use hemp milk in smoothies or in cooking due to its low carbohydrate content.

Hemp Milk Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a one-cup serving (240mL) of hemp non-dairy beverage.

  • Calories: 60
  • Fat: 4.5g
  • Sodium: 110mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 3g

Carbs

Hemp milk (made from water and hulled hemp seed) provides about 60 calories in a one-cup serving. There is no sugar and no carbohydrates in this type of hemp milk.

But other brands of hemp milk might be made with ingredients such as brown rice syrup, sugar, or other ingredients. The calorie and carb counts will be different. For example, according to the USDA a one-cup serving of one brand (made from a hemp nut base, brown rice syrup, and natural flavors) provides 161 calories, 24g of carbohydrate, 16g of sugar, and one gram of fiber.

There is no recorded glycemic index for hemp milk, but if the food contains no carbohydrates then the glycemic index is likely to be zero as GI is an estimate of how carbs in food affect blood sugar levels. Hemp milk that contains added sugar will have a higher glycemic index.

Fats

There are about 4.5 grams of fat in a single-serving of hemp milk. Most of the fat is polyunsaturated (3.5g), some of it is monounsaturated (0.5g), and none of it is saturated fat. But again, brand matters. There are some brands that may contain added fats.

For example, one brand contains sunflower lecithin as the third ingredient. Lecithin is a fatty substance that occurs naturally in some plant and animal tissues. This particular brand of hemp milk provides 8 grams of total fat per serving (6g of polyunsaturated fat, 1g of monounsaturated fat, and 0.5g of saturated fat).

Protein

A single one-cup serving of hemp milk provides about 3g of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

If you are looking to benefit from micronutrients in hemp milk, it is important to check the nutrition facts label when choosing which brand to buy. Some, but not all products, are enriched. That means that they have had various nutrients added during processing.

According to USDA data, a one-cup serving of hemp non-dairy beverage may provide 283mg of calcium (20% of the daily value) or up to 499mg (50% of the daily value). As a basis for comparison, a cup of low-fat dairy milk provides about 305 milligrams of calcium.

You might also benefit from other vitamins and minerals in hemp milk depending on the brand and variety. Some may provide up to 30% of the daily value for vitamin D, riboflavin (up to 35%), magnesium (15% to 25%), and phosphorus (25% to 45%). Some are fortified with vitamin B-12 (25% of the daily value) and may contain smaller amounts of iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamin A.

Health Benefits

Evidence linking hemp milk to specific health benefits is lacking. But choosing fortified hemp milk may provide some health advantages due to the nutrients that have been added to it. However, if you choose the variety that is not fortified or if you make your own hemp milk at home, these benefits don't apply. While hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts) can be a healthy addition to your diet, they don't contain many of the nutrients that you'll find in fortified hemp milk.

Can Be a Nutrient-Rich Milk Alternative

Enriched hemp milk can be a nutritious alternative for those who have lactose intolerance, milk allergy, or who choose to follow a dairy-free diet. A cup of low-fat (2%) dairy milk provides 122 calories, 8 grams of protein, 4.8 grams of fat, 11.7 grams of carbohydrate, and 12 grams of sugar. In addition to calcium, it also provides vitamin D, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, and vitamin A.

If you do not consume dairy, it's important to get key nutrients from other foods. Choosing fortified foods, like hemp milk, is one way to help you to get the nutrition that you need. You'll get fewer calories, less protein, saturated fat, and carbohydrate when you consume hemp milk instead of dairy, but you'll get many of the same vitamins and minerals. But remember that the type of dairy alternative that you choose matters. You shouldn't rely on a dairy-alternative for important nutrition unless you are sure it contains the vitamins and minerals that you need.

Can Help Improve Bone Density

The calcium in enriched hemp milk can help you to maintain strong, healthy bones and may help prevent osteoporosis—a weakening of the bones that can cause fractures. According to the National Institutes of Health, low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates. National nutrition surveys have shown that most people are not getting the calcium they need to grow and maintain healthy bones.

Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. So the vitamin D in some brands of fortified hemp milk is also important for bone health. You can increase your vitamin D levels by exposing yourself to sunlight. But since sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer, getting it in foods is preferable.

May Help Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Some people may have lower levels of vitamin B12 because they don't absorb it properly or because their diet doesn't include foods rich in the nutrient. Older adults, vegetarians, vegans, people who have had gastrointestinal surgery, and those who have digestive disorders, (such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease) are advised to take a vitamin B12 supplement or to look for foods that are fortified with it.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, weakness, nerve problems, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, problems with balance, According to the NIH, the deficiency can also cause nerve damage, so it is important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.

Helps Prevent Calcium Deficiency

In addition to contributing to bone health, calcium plays several other important roles in the body. It helps maintain healthy blood vessels for circulation and is important for the release of various hormones and enzymes. It also helps to facilitate communication between nerves and muscles.

Some people, such as post-menopausal women, are at risk for calcium deficiency. The National Institutes of Health also says that boys aged 9 to 13, girls aged 9 to 18, and men older than 70 often don't get enough calcium. Consuming foods that are enriched with calcium is one way to get the daily recommended intake.

May Help Support Heart Health

There is some limited evidence that hemp seeds have the potential to beneficially influence heart disease. Although evidence is limited and the authors of one published research review note that research progress has been slow and many studies have been conducted on animals. But they suggest that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hempseed can improve cardiovascular health.

Allergies

It is possible to be allergic to Cannabis sativa but most of the reported cases have been linked to exposure through smoking and direct contact with the plant. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reports that symptoms of marijuana allergy can occur after hempseed ingestion. But reports of a hemp milk allergy are lacking.

Marijuana allergy symptoms include rashes, hives, or swelling. More severe symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath can also occur. The AAAAI says that people who are allergic to tomato, peach, and hazelnut may also be allergic to C. sativa. If you experience symptoms after consuming hemp milk, especially if you have known allergies, reach out to your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Adverse Effects

Some people worry about getting high from consuming foods made from hemp. Marijuana and hemp come from the same cannabis plant family but they are very different. Hemp seed and hemp milk are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when consumed as a food. In fact, food-grade strains of hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC by weight. THC is what causes the psychotropic effect. So you are not likely to feel any THC-related effects when consuming the beverage.

Hemp seeds are naturally gluten-free, but that doesn't necessarily mean that hemp milk will be gluten-free. Some brands advertise that they are gluten-free but others do not.

Varieties

Like other milk alternatives (like almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk), there are different brands and varieties of hemp milk. But since hemp milk is less popular, you're not as likely to see as many options on store shelves. You may find sweetened or unsweetened hemp milk or vanilla-flavored hemp milk in many markets.

Also, be aware that hemp milk is usually not found in the dairy section of the market (unlike almond milk, soy milk, and others). Most brands make shelf-stable boxes that you find in the aisles. Also, the product will usually not be called "milk." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards require that the word "milk" can only be used to refer to a dairy beverage that comes from cows.

When It’s Best

Hemp milk is available all year long in supermarkets.

Storage and Food Safety

Hemp milk is usually sold in shelf-stable containers that remain fresh when stored in a cool, dark cupboard until the expiration date or until they are opened. Once opened, hemp milk should be kept in the refrigerator. Hemp milk will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days if kept refrigerated. Hemp milk separates and usually is not suitable for freezing.

Also, some people occasionally notice black specks in their hemp milk. These specks are from the hemp hull and are safe to consume.

How to Prepare

Many people choose to make hemp milk at home. It's a simple process that is quick and requires just a few ingredients. But remember that hemp milk that you make at home will not provide the nutrients available in enriched hemp milk that you buy in stores.

To make your own hemp milk, combine about 1/2 cup of hemp seeds with about 4 cups of water in a high-speed blender. You can add flavorings according to your preferences. Many cooks add a small amount of salt to enhance flavor. But others like to add sweetness and choose to add vanilla or dates.

Blend the mixture until smooth. At this point, you can choose to strain it or not. Some people like a thicker consistency and store the milk as is. Others strain it using cheesecloth. Store it refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Use your hemp milk like you might use dairy milk or another milk alternative. Drink it by the glass, stir it into coffee, or use it to make smoothies. You can use it to make overnight oats using oats, the milk, and your favorite toss-ins (like nuts or berries). Or use it to make a chia seed parfait for dessert.

Remember that hemp milk tends to have a nuttier flavor than other types of milk. It can be used in recipes for baked goods, but many people prefer it in savory recipes as well.

Recipes

Healthy Hemp Milk Recipes to Try

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