Those looking for a dairy-free milk substitute have probably stumbled across almond milk and wondered, “Is almond milk good for you?”
Whether you’re a vegan, sensitive to milk or just don’t like the taste, almond milk is a fabulous alternative.
While almond milk is becoming more and more popular, it’s important to note that it doesn’t provide as much protein or calcium to be a complete substitute.
So make sure you receive adequate amounts from other sources.
One cup only has one gram of protein versus 8 grams in cow’s milk, and 2 milligrams of calcium versus 300 milligrams in cow’s milk.
As with everything you buy, make sure to check the labels and purchase almond milk that contains the least amount of preservatives and other additives.
It is easy to make almond milk yourself, not to mention cheaper.
Heap recommended the following recipe:
- Soak 1 cup of almonds uncovered in water for one-two days.
- Drain and discard the soaking water.
- Rinse the almonds.
- Blend them on high with 2 cups of fresh water.
- Strain well using cheesecloth.
- Add a little vanilla, sweetener or cinnamon.
How long does almond milk last?
Both commercial and homemade almond milk can go bad.
Commercial almond milk has a use-by date on its packaging and should be used within seven days after opening, according to the Almond Breeze brand website.
Heap recommends using homemade almond milk within two days.
11 Benefits of Almond Milk
1. It helps with weight management.
One cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories in 2 percent, 102 calories in 1 percent, and 86 calories in skim.
It makes for a great substitute that will help you lose or maintain your current weight.
2. It keeps your heart healthy.
Unlike cow’s milk, almond milk contains no cholesterol and no saturated fats, so it won’t damage your cardiovascular system.
Almond milk is also high in omega-3 fatty acids to help lower your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and protect your heart.
You’ll also enjoy the other benefits of adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, such as improved cognitive function.
Not only is almond-milk cholesterol free, according to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats, such as those found in almond milk.
Are good for your heart if you substitute them for saturated fats, such as those found in cow’s milk.
In a 1999 review published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports, researchers looked at the Nurses’ Health Study and estimated that substituting nuts for saturated fats resulted in a 45 percent estimated reduced risk of heart disease.
3. It keeps your bones strong.
While it doesn’t offer as much calcium as cow’s milk, almond milk does offer 30 percent of the recommended daily amount.
As well as 25 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin D, reducing your risk for arthritis and osteoporosis and improving your immune function.
Plus, these two nutrients work together to provide healthy bones and teeth formation.
4. It keeps your skin glowing.
Almond milk contains 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
Which contains antioxidant properties essential to your skin’s health, such as protecting it against sun damage.
5. It barely impacts your blood sugar.
Almond milk (with no additives) is low in carbs, which means it won’t significantly increase your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for diabetes.
Because of its low glycemic index. Your body will use the carbs as energy so the sugars aren’t stored as fat (score!).
6. It contributes to muscle strength and healing.
Although almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein per serving, it contains plenty of B vitamins such as iron and riboflavin.
Both important for muscle growth and healing.
7. It keeps your digestion in check.
Almond milk contains almost one gram of fiber per serving, which is important for healthy digestion.
8. It doesn’t contain lactose.
Lactose intolerance impacts about 25% of the US population, which means they have difficulty digesting the sugar in cow’s milk. This makes almond milk a suitable, lactose-free substitute.
9. It tastes better than cow’s milk.
Almond milk doesn’t taste like cow’s milk, perfect for those who are turned off by the taste. It has its own unique flavor many describe as being light and crisp.
Bonus: it’s versatile, meaning you can use it instead of cow’s milk in recipes that require it. It won’t have the same taste, but it will have the same consistency.
10. It doesn’t require refrigeration.
Dairy milk has to be refrigerated or it will spoil, but you will see in the stores that almond milk is set on the shelf with dry foods. It doesn’t have to be set on ice to keep it’s integrity.
This fact is excellent for road and camping trips.
Use almond milk instead of regular milk and lessen the load in your ice chest.
Are Other ‘Alternative’ Milks Healthy?
Almond milk is just one plant-based milk available in most major supermarkets.
You can now easily find a handful of others as well, most of which are marketed as healthy… but are they really?
Here’s a run-down on some of the more popular alternative milks on the market:
One of the worst problems with soy comes from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified (GM).
GM soybeans are designed to be “Roundup Ready,” which means they’re engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicide.
The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate. Which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle.
What’s more, glyphosate is toxic to the placenta, which is responsible for delivering vital nutrients from mother to child, and eliminating waste products.
Once the placenta has been damaged or destroyed, the result can be miscarriage.
In those children born to mothers who have been exposed to even a small amount of glyphosate. Serious birth defects can result.
Glyphosate’s mechanism of harm was identified in 2013 and demonstrates how this chemical disrupts cellular function and may induce many of our modern diseases, including autism. It’s also been declared a “probable carcinogen.”
Aside from the GM issues
Aside from the GM issues, thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility, and even cancer and heart disease.
The only soy with health benefits is organic soy that has been properly fermented. And these are the only soy products I ever recommend consuming.
After a long fermentation process, the phytate and “anti-nutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system. To learn more, please see this previous article detailing the dangers of unfermented soy.
Rice milk is composed of similar ingredients to almond milk, namely filtered water, rice, and added vitamins.
There’s nothing particularly healthy about rice milk along with a potential harm: arsenic.
Rice has been shown to accumulate 10 times more arsenic than other grains, due to physiology and growing conditions, and is an ingredient of “moderate” concern in rice and rice-based processed foods, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG reported:7
“In 2012, the independent, highly regarded Consumer Reportsresearch organization made public tests indicating that arsenic concentrations commonly exceeded 100 parts per billion in rice, rice flour, crackers, pasta, hot and cold breakfast cereals, and infant cereal…
Arsenic levels in rice milk often surpassed 10 parts per billion, the maximum allowed in drinking water.”
Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water. About 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is rarely found in nature.
Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can actually destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV and herpes, influenza, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and protozoa such as Giardia lamblia.
Lauric acid is a type of medium chain fatty acid (MCFAs), which is easily digested and readily crosses cell membranes.
MCFAs are immediately converted by your liver into energy rather than being stored as fat.
There are numerous studies showing that MCFAs promote weight loss, including one study that showed rats fed MCFAs reduced body fat and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.8
Yet another study found that overweight men who ate a diet rich in MCFAs lost more fat tissue, presumably due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation from the MCFA intake.
In addition, coconut milk is rich inantioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins C, E and B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.
Many consider raw milk to be an “alternative” form of milk, but it is actually how all milk used to be consumed.
High-quality raw milk from a reputable source is far preferable to the pasteurized CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) milk found in most supermarkets.
High-quality raw milk has a mountain of health benefits that pasteurized milk lacks. For example, raw milk is:
- Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract
- Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies)
- Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and boosts metabolism
- Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible
- Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and contains a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live lactobacilli
Choose Raw Almonds for Best Results
When choosing almonds for this recipe (or for snacking), try to find raw, organic almonds. It can be tricky, as pasteurized almonds sold in North America can still be labeled “raw” even though they’ve been subjected to one of the following pasteurization methods:
- Oil roasting, dry roasting, or blanching
- Steam processing
- Propylene Oxide (PPO) treatment (PPO is a highly toxic flammable chemical compound, once used as a racing fuel before it was prohibited for safety reasons)
There are generally no truly “raw” almonds sold in North America, so don’t be misled. It is possible to purchase raw almonds in the UK, from little shops in the countryside or villages.