Over the past few years, nut “milks” like almond milk have become the hottest thing since sliced bread. Touted by vegans and the lactose intolerant as a healthier alternative to real milk, you may be surprised to learn that most almond milk sold in stores is mostly water and sugar – not exactly the “healthy” beverage it is advertised to be.
Bottom line: If you want the health benefits almonds can provide, just eat almonds! Or, as the article below suggests, if you are looking for a truly healthy milk alternative, it’s best to make your own.
Here is some eye-opening info about commercial almond milk – and other milk substitutes:
What exactly is almond milk? It’s typically a combination of almonds, water, sweetener, thickener such as carrageenan, and, often, fortified nutrients such as vitamins A, E, and D.
The problem is that most almond milk contains hardly any almonds, mostly water, added sugars, and a smattering of vitamins for good measure.…
A Handful of Almonds in a Carton…
The amount of actual almonds in a half-gallon carton of almond milk is shocking: research suggests it’s just over a handful. In one analysis of the UK almond milk brand Alpro, almonds made up just 2 percent of the beverage….2
If you’ve ever wondered how almond milk can be so low in calories – about 30 calories in a cup, compared to 160 calories in a serving of almonds – it’s because it’s mostly water… not almonds.
“Based on these numbers,” Business Insider reported, “to get the nutritional value of a handful of almonds, you’d have to drink not just a few cups of the almond milk but an entire carton of it.”3
Almond Milk Sales Soar as Consumers Get Ripped Off
…In the US, almond milk tops the plant-based milk market, taking up two-thirds of the share….4
In all, sales of alternative milks are soaring and are expected to reach $1.7 billion by 2016, with almond milk leading the way.5 But as a consumer, you have to question what you’re really paying for… and how much it’s costing you. In the case of almond milk, you’re paying a lot of money for what is essentially water and sweetener with a handful of almonds.
According to Mother Jones:6
“…the almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds. Which leads us to the question of price and profit… A jug of almond milk containing roughly 39 cents worth of almonds, plus filtered water and additives, retails for $3.99.”
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:
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.
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….7
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.
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….8
…In addition, coconut milk is rich in antioxidants 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…. (see full article)
If You Love Almond Milk, Make Your Own
While almond milk isn’t exactly a superfood by any means, there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about it – unless you choose varieties with added sweeteners and other additives. For the most part, it’s more deceptive than anything, as you’re paying a premium for mostly water and could get better nutrition from eating a handful of actual nuts. Still, if you enjoy the taste of almond milk and don’t want to give it up, making your own almond milk is far more economical – and healthier – than buying a ready-made version.
You can increase the amount of almonds for added nutrition, leave out the sweeteners and other additives, and be left with an almond-milk beverage that’s actually decent for your health at a fraction of the price. It’s simple to make, too. One recipe from Whole Foods Market involves first soaking about one cup of organic, raw almonds in cold water overnight (about 10-12 hours).10 Then, blend the almonds with about three cups of water (you can add more or less depending on how you like the consistency).
Strain the frothy mixture through a cheesecloth, fine-mesh strainer or nut-milk bag. Your almond milk will keep in the fridge for about three days (give it a stir before drinking)….