Almond milk is a drink that is prepared from ground almonds and water. Almond milk has been used for several years as a plant-based alternative to dairy milk. According to Jenny Heap, a registered dietitian with the Almond Board of California, almond milk has been around since the middle ages when noble houses used it as a substitute for dairy milk.
The Boston Globe released a report in 2014 indicating that almond milk had even surpassed soy milk as the most popular plant-based milk product on the market.
Is Almond Milk Dairy?
Although the plant-based drink is called milk, almond milk is not dairy. It is a tasty drink that is prepared from ground almonds and water. The drink is Dairy-free, soy-free, and lactose-free. One may choose to add salts or sweeteners to make it taste better.
The commercially prepared almond milk typically has added nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Thickening agents, such as carrageenan, which is a seaweed derivative, are added to increase the shelf-life of almond milk. Almond milk can be made at home.
Jenny Heap recommended the following recipe:
- First, soak almonds in water for one to two days. The water should remain uncovered.
- After the two days are over, the soaking water should be drained and discarded. The almonds should be rinsed with clean water.
- The almonds should then be blended on high with two cups of fresh water. After blending, they should be strained well using cheesecloth, which ensures chunks of almonds do not make it into the milk.
- Finally, one can choose to add vanilla, a sweetener, or cinnamon to taste.
Both homemade and commercial almond milk can go bad after some time. The commercial almond milk comes with a use-by date that is indicated on the packaging.
According to Almond Breeze website, commercial almond milk should be used within seven days after opening its packaging. Experts recommend using the homemade almond milk within two days.
Almond Milk Vs. Almonds
Almond milk has the same nutritional value as super-healthy almonds. However, the almond milk's nutrient level is lower compared to almonds. According to Heap, a one-ounce serving, which needs about 23 almonds to make, provides six grams of proteins and four grams of fibers. Other nutrients include Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, and potassium.
It is not clear the number of almonds that are used to make a quart of almond milk. The number of almonds depends on the brand or the recipe if it is homemade.
Business Insider published an article indicating that the commercial almond milk recipes are similar from brand to brand. According to the Los Angeles Times, the list of ingredients on most commercial brands indicates almonds as the second or third ingredient. The top ingredients include water and sweeteners, which means there are more of those ingredients than the amount of almonds used.
Studies have revealed that commercial almond milk has larger amounts of calcium and Vitamins A and D compared to whole almonds, as manufacturers fortify the almond milk with those nutrients. The vitamin E that is present in almond milk is also added; the vitamin E from whole almonds does not make its way into the final product.
Almond Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk
The USDA released a report that showed that almond milk has one gram of proteins per cup compared to cow milk, which has eight grams. Calcium-fortified almond milk contains high levels of calcium compared to that found in cow's milk. However, the levels of calcium found in homemade almond milk are much lower than that in cow milk. Fortified Almond milk has more Vitamins A, D, E, and B12 compared to those found in non-fortified cow’s milk.
Reports also indicate that cow’s milk has more phosphorus content than almond milk, while the plant-based milk has slightly higher sodium levels. The most notable difference between almond milk and cow milk is that almond milk is cholesterol free. It also lacks saturated fats that are present in cow milk.
According to the Washington Post, the fats present in almond milk are good for human consumption. Almond milk is also said to have fewer calories than cow milk.
Almond Milk Vs. Soy Milk
The nutritional value of almond milk and soy milk tend to be very close. However, almond milk has fewer calories than soy milk. A number of carbohydrates and sugar found in almond milk is also lower than the same variety of soy milk.
Almond milk does not contain saturated fats, which are found in soy milk. However, soy milk has more potassium, magnesium, and folate RDA than most almond milk blends.
Almond Milk Vs. Coconut Milk
The first noticeable difference between coconut milk and almond milk is the caloric content. Unsweetened almond milk can contain a maximum of 60 calories compared to coconut milk which has 400 calories in a single serving.
As a result, coconut milk is not a good option for those who are interested in cutting calories consumption.
Advantages Of Almond Milk
Almond milk is the best option for those who are dairy or lactose intolerant.
According to an article that was published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 75 percent of the global population are at least slightly lactose intolerant, and those people affected may benefit greatly from almond milk.
Almond milk is also a good option for vegetarians.
Low Caloric Content
Almond milk is good for calorie-watchers because it only contains between 30 and 60 calories per cup. According to a 2003 study that was published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, combining almonds with low-calorie meals can lead to faster weight loss.
According to the American Heart Association, the monosaturated fats that are found in almond milk are good for the heart. According to a 1999 review that was published in Atherosclerosis Reports, substituting almonds for saturated fats led to a reduction in heart disease by 45 percent.
A good amount of the riboflavin present in whole almonds makes it into almond milk. Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B12, has various roles in the body. It aids in the production of new red blood cells. According to the National Institutes Health, riboflavin releases energy from carbohydrates.
Helps In The Prevention Or Management Of Cancer
A recent study demonstrated the ability of almond milk to prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells. The monosaturated fats that are present in almond milk may also help in the prevention of endometrial cancer. Researchers have revealed that the consumption of monosaturated fats decreases the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a rare form of cancer that affects the liver.
Research that was published in the International Journal of Cancer also demonstrated the ability of almond milk to prevent the development of individual breast cancer markers. The study was also published in the American Association of Cancer Research's Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention materials.
Almonds have been found to contain natural compounds that help in cancer prevention. Almond milk contains benzaldehyde, which has been shown to exert an anti-cancer effect. It also offers a high amount of fiber, which may help prevent the development of colon cancer. Other nutrients that help promote the body's health include Vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, and zinc.
The folate present in almond milk helps fight against cervical cancer. According to researchers based in Finland, almond milk may also assist in the prevention of lung cancers. According to a study that was conducted by scientists from the University of California, almond milk has a significant impact in the prevention of bowel cancer in rats.
Good For The Skin
Almond milk has been shown to be beneficial for skin, nails, and hair. Although it has a few proteins, its zinc content can help keep the skin healthy and also free of blemishes. Lack of zinc can lead to various ailments such as hair loss.
Vitamin E is also required to protect the skin against damage caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun and is one of the antioxidants found in almond milk. Vitamin E has an antioxidant property that helps remove harmful free radicals that may lead to the development of cancer.
May Help Strengthen The Bones
Dairy products are known to be rich in calcium. Almonds, on the other hand, are poor sources of calcium. To make almond milk more similar to dairy milk, manufacturers often enrich it with calcium.
One cup of commercial almond milk may contain approximately 50 percent of RDI. The calcium content in cow milk, on the other hand, ranges between 28-31 percent of the RDI. As a result, fortified almond milk is an excellent source of calcium.
Almond milk forms the best alternative source of calcium to individuals who do not consume dairy products, such as vegans. Those who are intolerant to lactose or allergic to cow milk can also benefit from almond milk. The calcium mineral is essential for the growth and maintenance of bones. As a result, an adequate intake of almond milk reduces the risks that are associated with the development of osteoporosis, which is more prevalent in women.
Weak bones and fractures characterize the musculoskeletal condition.
Aids In Weight Loss
The low caloric content in almond milk makes it the best diet option for cutting weight. The number of calories found in almond milk range between 40 and 60, compared to goat milk, which has 168 calories per serving.
Almond milk is a standard component of diets that encourage the consumption of healthy fats, such as the ketogenic diet. Other low-carb diets often encourage people to include almond milk in their diet.
Besides the low caloric content that is associated with almond milk, the plant-based milk minimally affects the blood sugar concentration. It is good for individuals who are watching their blood sugar levels. The nutrients that are present in almond milk are used by the body to create energy instead of being stored as fats.
Helps In The Removal Of Free Radicals From The Body
Almond milk is rich in Vitamin E, which is known as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help in the fight against free radicals that are caused by chemicals present in food and sun exposure.
It is advisable to eat antioxidants to help prevent oxidative damage that may result from the buildup of these free radicals. Almonds are one of the common sources of Vitamin E.
By consuming a significant amount of almond milk, the body acquires sufficient amounts of Vitamin E, which aids the body in the fight against diseases that result from the free radicals.
Promotes A Healthy Cardiovascular System
According to observational studies, a daily consumption of nuts is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Nuts are rich in Vitamin E and healthy fats, which help promote a healthy heart. Almonds are also rich in Vitamin E.
The vitamin is believed to be responsible for various health benefits of almond milk. Vitamin E protects the lipids against oxidation, and they also reduce the levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Almond oil has been shown to contain one percent oil by weight. Approximately, 90 percent of the oil is unsaturated. The fatty acid profile of almond oil is 69 percent oleic acid, 17 percent linoleic acid, and 8 percent palmitic acid. The oleic acid, which is the primary fatty acid in almond milk, is associated with beneficial changes in blood lipids.
According to a study that was performed on healthy adults, a daily consumption of almond milk over a period of six weeks lowered the levels of bad cholesterol in the body by six percent. The blood levels of triglycerides were also reduced by 14 percent, while the levels of good cholesterol were raised by six percent.
Slows The Progression Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Although Alzheimer's disease does not have any cure, there are natural ways that can be used to prevent or slow the progression of the disorder. Vitamin E that is found in almond milk helps slow down the degeneration that is common in Alzheimer's disease.
Almond milk is high in Vitamin A, which is essential for proper functioning of the eyes. Vitamin A has been shown to prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration. It also has antioxidant properties that help protect the eyes from free radical damage.
History & Other Interesting Facts About Almond Milk
Almond milk has been in existence since the medieval times. During the Middle Ages, cow milk was not a reliable source of nutrition. One of the reasons to why cow milk was not popular was because it spoiled quickly in the absence of a refrigerator.
Many Christians did not take cow milk during the Lenten season, which is the period of 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During this time, the recipes that included milk were less regarded.
Almonds give a more reliable amount of milk compared to cows. Another advantage of almond milk is the fact that it has a longer shelf life than cow milk. Its high-fat content made it possible to churn almond milk into plant-based butter during the Lenten period. Besides the beneficial fatty contents, many healthcare providers during the Middle Ages praised almond milk for its several health benefits.
The health care providers prescribed almond milk to their patients to improve their sexual health through increasing sperm production. According to folklore, the consumption of almonds a night before drinking helped to reduce drunkenness.
During the modern times, the popularity of almonds declined due to their low nutritional value compared to cow milk. However, facts have shown that these claims were exaggerated. The popularity of almond milk started to rise again in the early 2000s after some of the drawbacks of soy milk became more widely understood.
Almond milk surpassed soy milk in the health sector in the year 2013. In 2014, the almond milk accounted for 60 percent of total sales of plant-based milk. Currently, almond milk accounts for approximately 4.1 percent of overall milk sales in the United States.
Who Should Not Use Almond Milk?
Individuals Who Are Allergic To Tree Nuts
Although almond milk may not contain a lot of almonds, the amount available is sufficient to set off an allergic reaction for those who are allergic to almonds. An almond allergy is categorized as a tree nut allergy, including walnuts, cashew nuts, and Brazil nuts.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, tree nut allergies may lead to anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction.
Symptoms that may present with an almond allergic reaction include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nasal congestion. The patient may also present with other symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, and itching.
As the popularity of almond grows, more parents are tempted to give it to their infants. Research studies have revealed that this can actually have toxic effects.
According to a study that is found in the French Journal, infants who were given the plant-based milk presented with the signs of edema, hypoalbuminemia, and protein-calorie malnutrition.
Other effects include iron-deficiency anemia, Vitamin D deficiency, and low growth rate. The article discourages the administration of the plant-based milk to infants.
Risks Associated With Almond Milk
Some almond milk products contain carrageenan, which is a controversial thickener that is derived from seaweed. It is commonly included in many products to provide texture, such as in ice-cream.
According to a study that was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, carrageenan is a leading cause of inflammation and inflammatory bowel diseases. The natural compound is also associated with colorectal malignancy.
It is advisable to check the labels on the almond milk packaging to confirm that the brand chosen does not contain carrageenan.
Because nut allergies are common, an individual who is susceptible to almond allergies should not drink almond milk.
There have been reports of children developing kidney stones due to excessive consumption of almond milk. The kidney stones are as a result of oxalate compounds, which are found in almonds.
It is advisable to give children almond milk in moderation. Almond milk can be substituted with coconut milk or goat milk to prevent the buildup of oxalate compounds in the body.
Nutritional Benefits Of Almond Milk Conclusion
Almond milk is easy to make at home. It is derived from soaked and blended almonds. However, the plant-based milk contains fewer nutrients compared to whole almonds. But still, there are other factors that make almond milk a desirable component of a diet.
Almond milk is the best alternative to dairy milk when one intends to eat a low-carb diet. The nutrients that are found in almond milk are associated with several health benefits. Almond milk contains natural compounds that help prevent the development of cancer.
Studies have shown that the consumption of the plant-based milk can help avoid the development of prostate and breast cancer. Other health benefits of almond milk include the provision of healthy bones and muscles.
Almond milk may also aide in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disorder. The consumption of almond milk is also associated with faster weight loss, as its low calorie and carbohydrates count per serving make it suitable for weight loss.
Almond milk has been used since the ancient times as an ingredient in recipes. The popularity of almond milk has grown due to the desire of many individuals to find an alternative to cow milk.
It is advisable to try a homemade almond milk before going for the commercial ones. One can also choose start with the organic, unsweetened almond milk that is free from carrageenan.