Milking the goodness of hemp
Matthew Kross, MSc, RD
These days, you can sport a white moustache that comes from almonds, rice, and now hemp. Made from crushed hemp seeds, hemp milk has a number of health benefits
Whether you’re looking for a soy-lution to lactose intolerance, fretting over the carbon footprint of big agriculture dairy farming, or just desire a change from the moo juice, you’re in luck.
These days, you can sport a white moustache that comes from almonds, rice, oats, and now hemp. Made from crushed hemp seeds, here’s why a spilled glass is worth sobbing over.
Fat That’s Phat
Delighting in a cold glass of hemp milk will give your diet a boost of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both critical for overall well-being. Hemp milk harbours roughly twice the amount of the nutritional powerhouse omega-3 fat, a heart-disease fighter, than its nearest nondairy beverage competitor.
Hemp milk is also the only nondairy beverage source of a more quietly lauded omega-6 fat called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Some scientists believe that GLA can help us dodge inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and heart disease. GLA may also be one reason why Finnish researchers found that a steady diet of hemp can increase the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in comparison to the total cholesterol in the blood.
Gero Leson, a scientific advisor to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), points out that hemp milk is a direct source of an omega-3 fat called stearidonic acid. “This is significant because the omega-3 fat linolenic acid is converted to stearidonic acid on its way to becoming the exceptionally healthy fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found naturally in fish,” explains Leson. By consuming stearidonic acid, there are fewer metabolic steps needed to make DHA.
“The protein in hemp beverages supplies all the amino acids an adult needs and is really easy to digest,” says Leson. Its ease of digestion can be attributed to an absence of trypsin (an enzyme that aids in protein absorption) inhibitors found in legumes such as soy. With 4 to 5 g of protein per cup, only soy among faux milks has more of this important macronutrient needed to repair and build lean body mass.
In addition to fat and protein, Leson points out that hemp milk naturally supplies many other must-have nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron (not found in cows’ milk), and zinc. Some brands are fortified with vitamins A and D and calcium to more closely resemble what comes from Bessie. What it doesn’t contain, though, are artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Like other dairy alternatives, hemp milk is free of lactose, so it’s a godsend for milk lovers with dairy allergies. A cold glass also comes sans gluten, nuts, and oligosaccharides–an irritant found in soy milk that can cause stomach unrest in some people.
Good for Mother Earth, Too
A consumer buying hemp milk is safeguarding the soil, as no pesticides or herbicides are used in the growing or processing of hemp for food production, says Mike Fata, co-founder and president of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods.
A sturdy crop that grows fast and out-competes weeds, the need for chemical inputs is diminished. “Hemp grows in a variety of climates and is an excellent rotational crop, helping [to] alleviate the serious problems associated with monoagriculture,” adds Fata. In addition, unlike much of the nonorganic soy grown in North America, hemp seeds used for hemp milk are not genetically modified.
Help yourself to hemp and milk the benefits of this great moo-juice alternative.
Rich and creamy, hemp milk has a distinctive taste that resembles that of sunflower seeds. It is sure to be a hit amongst even the most ardent milk lovers. It can be enjoyed on its own or