A couple months ago, I wrote about switching Charlie from cow's milk to soy milk to address his regular vomiting and constipation issues. After switching to soy, Charlie stopped throwing up, so he probably did have a cow's milk allergy. Luckily other forms of dairy like yogurt, cheese, etc. don't seem to bother him, because that would be really sad! The switch to soy didn't really seem to help his constipation issues, however, and they've actually gotten worse.
I never intended to keep Charlie on soy milk long-term because its estrogen-mimicking compounds concern me. There have been studies that suggest eating large quantities of soy may reduce fertility, spur the early onset of puberty, and even inhibit the absorption of certain minerals, so I'd been looking for an alternative milk. I learned about all kinds of different types of milk from anbanan15 in my last post. I was familiar with the more popular options like goat, coconut, rice, and almond, but there's also hemp, cashew, sunflower, oat, potato, hazelnut, pumpkin seed... apparently you can make a milk out of almost anything!
I asked my friend Hee Won, a nutritionist based out of Los Angeles, what cow's milk alternative she'd suggest. She told me that she wouldn't recommend soy milk to any of her patients, and suggested that we try hemp milk or cashew milk instead. I did a little bit of research on the most popular cow's milk alternatives and their pros and cons -- coconut milk tastes great but is high in calories and low in protein, rice milk is the most hypoallergenic but is low in protein and can be constipating, and almond milk tastes great but is also low in protein. Here's how hemp milk stacks up nutritionally against whole cow's milk:
This is what I've learned about hemp milk:
- made from the seeds of the same plant used to make marijuana! However the seeds don't contain any THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, so you will not get high.
- cholesterol-free, soy-free, gluten-free, non-dairy, no known allergies
- high in hormone-regulating Omega 6 and anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids
- doesn't have to be refrigerated so it doesn't take up our precious refrigerator space (and I can buy it in bulk online)
- Dr. Oz picked hemp milk as his favorite milk alternative
- Dr. Andrew Weil says it contains all 10 essential amino acids and is a good source of protein for vegetarians
I was warned that Charlie might not like the grassy/earthy taste of hemp milk, so before making the switch I also purchased coconut, rice and almond milk. Of the three, Charlie liked almond milk best because it has a sweet, nutty taste, and I mixed in a little bit of almond, soy, and hemp together for a while until Charlie was drinking all hemp. As far as the taste of hemp milk, it tastes pretty similar to soy milk to me, but I don't have a very good palate. Charlie is fine with the taste (and the boy does love his milk), and that's all that matters.
I'm happy with the nutritional content of hemp milk, and am glad to have found an alternative to cow's milk. There are several different brands on the market, but the most popular seems to be Living Harvest's Tempt brand, which is what we've been using (they even have hemp ice cream!).
Do you feed your LO an alternative to cow's milk? Would you consider giving your LO hemp milk?