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What are the benefits of switching to hemp milk?

Veganuary doesn’t have to end this month as we give you five reasons to try hemp milk

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Hemp milk: A glass of hemp milk and seeds on a wooden surface

Making a simple switch from dairy products to plant-based alternatives can have huge benefits for our health. We examine if hemp milk could be the way forward

Even though Veganuary may be coming to an end, there are so many advantages to making little changes to the amount of meat and dairy we eat. One easy switch to make is from cow’s milk to plant-based alternatives such as hemp, soy or almond milk.

Here are five reasons for switching to hemp milk

Hemp may lower cholesterol

Hemp milk is also a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. These are essential fatty acids that can be found in walnuts, flaxseed and Brussel sprouts.

One of the benefits of these fatty acids is that they can increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in the body while protecting the heart and lowering blood pressure. Lower levels of cholesterol in the body reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Another reason that hemp is good for lowering cholesterol is the amount of linoleic acid it contains. Linoleic acid may reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins which form the ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Hemp also contains arginine which can dilate and relax the arteries. The body changes L-arginine to nitric oxide, a substance known to widen blood vessels. Some recent research suggests that this may help with cholesterol and heart health although more studies are needed.

Easier on the digestive system

One of the reasons for the growing popularity of plant-based milk is often due to lactose intolerance. It is estimated that one and two in every 10 people have lactose intolerance which can result in bloating, pain and nausea.

Lactose is a sugar found in cow’s milk. When we drink dairy, our bodies use an enzyme produced in our small intestines, called lactase to break it down to be absorbed into our systems. If a person has lactose intolerance, then they may not produce enough of the enzyme making it more difficult to break the sugar down.

As hemp is naturally free of soy, lactose and gluten, it can be the ideal alternative for someone with these dietary requirements. It may be easier to digest than milk for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Hemp can contribute to better skin

The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are not just great for lowering cholesterol but they can also reduce the signs of ageing on the skin. In a study of over 4000 women, it was found that higher levels of the fatty acids, linoleic acid and vitamin C helped to improve ‘better skin ageing appearance.’

Hemp milk: A bag of seeds and a glass of hemp milk

Sustainable option

Dairy farming has been linked to the contamination of soil, groundwater, surface water eutrophication and increased emissions. A large number of consumers worried about the environment have been switching to almond, oat or soy milk over the past few years in a bid to be more sustainable. However, these plant milk options may not be as sustainable as they appear.

Almond milk was It was valued at $5.2 billion globally in 2018 and expected to reach $13.25 billion by 2025. However, it requires a huge amount of water to grow almonds. Each crop can consume 15 to 25 inches of water in a  year which means it needs a huge amount of rainfall. This may cause issues of drought in areas such as Southern California that only receive 5 to 20 inches of rainfall annually. The increased dryness can contribute to wildfires, many of which have wiped out hemp farmers in recent years.

Hemp is bioaccumulative which means it can absorb carbon from the air or pollution from the soil or sea. The plant can then be processed into biofuels that present a greener alternative to current fossil fuels or energy sources. As hemp does not require pesticides or fertilizers, it can help to build the soil up for any follow-on crops.

Calcium intake

One of the reasons people give for not switching to plant-based milk is that dairy can be a good source of calcium. Hemp can also be high in calcium as well as all essential amino acids. Hemp also has more Vitamin A and micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

These micronutrients promote immunity which can be essential during cold or flu season. It can also reduce inflammation while boosting bone health.

A lack of calcium in the diet is linked to the development of conditions such as osteoporosis in later life. While it may seem easy to increase our calcium intake, our bodies can struggle to absorb it. Selecting fortified hemp milk can help with calcium absorption as these products usually have Vitamin D added to them. Vitamin D can be found in fortified foods, salmon, cod liver oil and sunlight.

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