First there was soy. Then the myriad nut varieties. And now there’s hemp—milk that is. It blasted into the mainstream last week when Dr. Oz picked it as his favorite milk alternative on his eponymous TV show. So should you be washing down your (vegan) cookies with this health elixir? We take a look.
Can you get a buzz with breakfast?
Hemp milk comes from the seeds of the cannabis plant which are pulverized and mixed with water—but no, it doesn’t contain any THC or the mind-altering fun of marijuana. That said, the very fact that hemp milk comes from, well, the hemp plant, can be problematic for manufacturers. Cathy Hearn, president of Living Harvest, says her company is active in campaigning for the legalization of hemp plants at the federal level because of the plant’s nutrition factor (and her brand’s sustainability, of course).
What are the health benefits?
Hemp milk is extremely high in hormone-regulating Omega 6 and anti-inflammatory Omega 3, fatty acids that we have to get in our diet. Dr. Oz has extolled hemp milk’s ability to help your brain—well, its cognitive function and memory—as well as for heart health.
Integrative health expert Dr. Andrew Weil, who is also a fan of hemp milk, has pointed out that it contains all 10 essential amino acids and is a good source of protein. And a bonus: hemp has no known allergens, which can be a problem with soy and nut milks.
How does it taste?
It won’t be much of a leap for almond milk drinkers. But there are a bunch of brands on the market, from Manitoba Harvest Hemp Bliss to Pacific Natural Foods, each with its own take on the sweet, nutty flavor. Interestingly, both Drs. Weil and Oz have singled out Living Harvest’s Tempt hemp milk (and frozen deserts) as a favorite. Like most brands of hemp milk, it comes in unsweetened original (which Hearn says tastes similar to the dairy milk she enjoyed growing up in Wisconsin) to vanilla (which she says tastes like a milkshake).
The company’s goal, she says, is to make great-tasting products that aren’t just for hippies—and they appear to be succeeding. Hearn says that the company’s revenue has grown more than five-fold since they introduced hemp milk in 2007, with current sales of approximately $6 million.
“You know, we rebranded away from having the pot leaf on our containers,” Hearn laughs. “We really want hemp milk to be accessible to everyone.” —Catherine Pearson