Almond Milk: 7 Benefits and 5 Side Effects

Is Almond Milk A Staple In Your Household?

Dairy milk sales have been going down for years now, as more and more people are opting for plant-based milk and other alternatives for health or dietary reasons. Among the most popular is almond milk.

This kind of milk is made by blending some almonds with water and filtering the mixt to eliminate any solids. Another way is to produce almond milk by combining almond butter and water. It has a creamy texture like milk and a lovely nutty aroma.

As a result, its common among vegans, vegetarians, and lactose-intolerant people. You can find almond milk in many supermarkets. But for health and well-being reasons, we recommend you get the unsweetened kind.

The good thing is that most brands are even reinforced with protein, minerals, and vitamins. Side Note: if you don’t consume any dairy, you should choose products that are fortified with calcium.

Almond milk manufacturers usually draw the milk from skinned almonds, and they strain the mix, eliminating most of the antioxidants and fiber. Also, almond milk gets diluted, making them a less concentrated nutrient source than whole almonds.

As long as you go for the fortified options, the nutritional value should be okay. Still not sure if almond milk is a healthy option for YOU? We’ll look at some of its side effects and benefits. Keep reading to get the details!

…But first, let’s take a look at the nutritional value!

Almond Milk
Photo by Wichy at Shutterstock

Nutritional Value Of Almond Milk

With only 39 calories a cup (240 ml), this milk is deficient in calories compared with cow’s milk and other plant-based drinks. It also contains various nutrients.

A cup of commercial almond milk provides:

  • Fat: 3g
  • Carbs: 3.5g
  • Calories: 39
  • Protein: 1g
  • Calcium: 24% of the Daily Value
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Vitamin D: 18% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin E: 110% of the Daily Value
  • Potassium: 4% of the Daily Value

Almond milk is a great and NATURAL source of vitamin E, an antioxidant which helps protect your body from any free radical damage. Some types are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, essential for bone health.

You should know that the homemade versions aren’t a good source of these nutrients. Also, almond milk is low in protein: 1 cup only provides 1 gram.

…But since there are so many versions on the market, how do you choose? Keep reading to find out!

How Can You Choose The Best Type?

Most local supermarket stores offer a variety of almond kinds of milk. When choosing the right product, make sure you’re looking for an unsweetened version.

You should also select a type without any added gums or emulsifiers if these ingredients are a concern for your health.

Also, keep in mind that if you follow a restricted diet, such as veganism, and are concerned about your nutrient intake, choose a kind of milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Don’t forget that the homemade versions and some local options may not contain the needed nutrients.

…Now let’s take a look at some important benefits!

Supports weight management

Plant-based drinks typically have fewer calories than regular dairy milk. For people who aim to reduce their calorie intake, switching to almond milk may sustain that dream. Weight loss can frequently be achieved or supported by decreasing energy intake from food.

Making small swaps from high-calorie foods to low-calorie foods can effectively decrease or maintain calorie intake, depending on your goals. Studies support the idea that reducing energy intake from food can help with weight management.

However, wide commercial varieties of almond milk are sweetened or flavored with added sugars, so they’re higher in calories. Different brands may add various amounts of sugar, so it’s vital to read the nutrition label and ingredient list if you’re concerned.

Furthermore, unfiltered, homemade almond milk may have more almonds left, which can also be higher in calories.

Supports A Healthy Heart

Including this milk in your diet can help you increase your intake of plant-based foods, which may help keep your heart healthier.

Some people promote plant-based diets because of their potential role in reducing the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. There was a study where 65 adults were separated into two groups.

The intervention group followed a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet, and the control group continued their usual diet.

The study deduced that there was a reduction in total cholesterol and a decrease in glycated hemoglobin after 12 weeks in the plant-based group compared with the control group.

HbA1c binds to red blood cells and guides the level of blood sugar control over a couple of months. Improved HbA1c and lower cholesterol levels can reduce your chance of developing any heart diseases.

It’s Low In Carbs

The unsweetened kinds of almond milk are naturally low in carbs. A 100g serving of almond milk contains approximately 0.3g of carbs, most of which is dietary fiber. The exact amount of dairy milk has about 4.6g of carbs in lactose, a type of natural sugar.

Remember that sweetened commercial varieties of all kinds of milk might be much higher in carbs because they contain those added sugars. Consuming added sugars can be easily absorbed and cause an increase in your blood sugar levels.

Some folks who have health conditions, including diabetes, might need to monitor the number of carbs in their diets. There’s been research done to evaluate the effects of sweetened beverages on type 2 diabetes risk.

According to the study, drinking a lot of SSBs is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Lower carb alternatives, such as unsweetened almond milk, can make managing your blood sugar levels easier.

In a study that included 27,662 adults, switching SSBs with other options, such as coffee without milk, was associated with around 20% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Healthier Skin

Research shows that regular dairy intake appears to be associated with acne. Regardless, dairy milk intake and acne are not that well understood, and research is sometimes conflicting.

If you’re concerned about acne, almond milk can offer an alternative that will help clear your skin. That’s because wide varieties of this milk are amazing sources of vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help clear cell-damaging free radicals in the body, which may damage your skin.

Free radicals are unavoidable molecules resulting from normal processes in your body and your environment, such as cigarette smoke and any other air pollutants.

A study was made where 36 females ages 35 years old and over consumed a beverage containing vitamins and collagen, including 2.3mg of vitamin E, for 12 weeks.

Results showed improved skin hydration, elasticity, and density compared with those who did not consume the drink. These results suggest that vitamin E plays a significant role in skin health.

Unfortunately, the effects can’t be attributed to vitamin E alone. So, consuming a healthful, balanced diet that has vitamin E can help promote healthier skin.

Enriched With Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an integral nutrient for many aspects of health, including heart function, bone strength, and immune system function. Our bodies produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

But, many people don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin due to their skin color, lifestyle, or simply because they might live in an area where sunlight is limited.

So, Vitamin D deficiency is the most common deficiency among adults in the US. This deficiency is commonly linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and autoimmune diseases.

Research has looked at the effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density in 305 postmenopausal women. For one year, they took a vitamin D supplement of 1,000 IU per day.

The study showed an improvement in bone mineral density among women with insufficient vitamin D blood levels compared with women who got the right amount of vitamin D. These results show us that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is vital.

However, ingesting more than the body needs may have dire consequences. There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, though, so lots of commercial products, almond milk included, are fortified with it.

On average, 3.5oz of fortified almond milk can provide 5% of the daily value of vitamin D. Not all varieties of almond milk will have vitamin D, however, including almond milk that’s homemade.

Low In Phosphorus And Moderate Amount Of Potassium

Persons with chronic kidney disease often avoid milk due to its high phosphorus and potassium levels. When your kidneys can’t adequately clear these nutrients, there’s a risk of buildup in the blood.

Having too much phosphorus in your blood increases your risk of hyperparathyroidism, heart disease, and bone disease. Also, having too much potassium can increase the risk of heart attacks.

Dairy milk contains 101mg of phosphorus and 150mg of potassium per 3.5oz, while the same amount of almond milk only has 30mg of phosphorus and 60mg of potassium. The amounts of these nutrients will vary by brand, so you’ll need to read the nutrition label.

In one study, participants whose phosphate levels were kept low for 40 weeks had a 64% reduction in the secretion of a hormone that contributes to the breakdown of bone and increases heart disease risk.

Blood samples were collected from around 911,698 adults with CKD, heart failure, or diabetes in a different study. After 18 months, researchers found that more than five mmol/L potassium levels were associated with higher chances of all-cause mortality.

If you have kidney disease, your requirements and limits might vary depending on your stage of the disease and current blood levels of potassium and phosphorus.

Just remember that many people don’t need to limit potassium and phosphorus, and most people don’t consume ENOUGH potassium. Check with your doctor before making any diet changes since they can affect your health.

Naturally Lactose-Free

Almond milk is naturally lactose-free, which makes it an excellent alternative for people who may be lactose intolerant. It’s estimated to affect 65–70% of the adult global population.

It’s induced by a deficiency in lactase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose into something more digestible. This deficiency can be caused by aging, genetics, or certain medical conditions.

Intolerance can cause uncomfortable symptoms, including stomach pain, bloating, and gas. Lactose intolerance is least common in white people with European descent, only affecting 5–17% of that population.

Yet, in South America, Africa, and Asia, rates are known to be as high as 50–100%. Since so many suffer from lactose intolerance, plant-based alternatives like almond milk that are naturally lactose-free permit people to enjoy foods that would otherwise contain dairy safely.

…Now that you’ve learned about the benefits, let’s look at some downsides:

Almond Milk
Photo by Antonina Vlasova at Shutterstock

Bees In Crisis

Almond farms need one key resource many people don’t think about to grow all those almonds: BEES! They’re needed to pollinate those almonds.

Californian almond farms require significantly more bees than other crops, and apparently, it’s not a very bee-friendly environment.

Almond pollination is problematic for bees because the season starts early and requires bees to be “deployed” at a time of the year when they are usually dormant, thus disrupting their natural cycle.

Making matters worse, almond farms have several hazards for bees, including pesticides, parasites, and even aggressive species of honeybees that have been imported from overseas.

The plight of bees in the US and worldwide has been getting a lot of media attention lately. Many bees have been dying in vast numbers.

The Climate Institute reported in 2016 that our country saw an average loss of 1.6 million bees per year for more than 10 million bees over seven years.

According to research, the winter of 2018-2019 was especially harsh for bees. More than one-third of beekeepers’ colonies died out before the winter ended, making it the worst season for bees in many years.

Can Contain Additives

Depending on the brand, processed almond milk might contain many additives, such as sugar, flavors, salt, gums, lecithin, and emulsifiers. Particular ingredients like gums and emulsifiers are used for the texture and consistency of the milk.

They’re safe, but only if they are consumed in extremely low amounts. Still, one test-tube study found that carrageenan, which is commonly added to almond milk as an emulsifier and recognized as safe, may mess with your gut health.

But, more comprehensive research is needed before any conclusions can genuinely be made. Nevertheless, many companies avoid this additive altogether due to the concerns. Furthermore, many flavored and sweetened almond milks are high in sugar.

And we already know that too much sugar can increase your risk of weight gain, dental cavities, and many other chronic conditions. To avoid this, choose unsweetened and unflavored almond milk whenever possible.

Lacks Needed Protein

Almond milk provides only 1g of protein per cup. That’s 240 ml. And while cow’s and soy milk will provide you with 8g and 7g, respectively. Protein is essential for many of our bodily functions.

Among them are muscle growth, our skin and bone structure, and our enzyme and hormone production. There are lots of dairy-free and plant-based foods out there that are high in protein, including beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and hemp seeds.

If you’re not trying to avoid any animal products, eggs, fish, chicken, and beef are all excellent protein sources. Just be sure to get in your required daily nutrients.

Note: Critics of fortified almond milk argue that although it’s rich with calcium naturally, plant-based milk products aren’t entirely absorbed by the body.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this makes dairy milk better in offering bioavailability in terms of nutrients.

Unsuitable For Infants

If you have kids or grandchildren, you’ll want to keep them away from this milk substitute. Children younger than one year should not drink cow’s or plant-based milk because they prevent iron absorption.

Mothers should breastfeed or use infant formula exclusively until 4–6 months when solid food can be introduced. At six months of age, offer water as a healthy beverage choice in addition to breast milk or formula.

After 1, cow’s milk can be introduced into an infant’s diet. Except for soy milk, plant-based drinks are naturally low in protein, calories, fat, and many vitamins and minerals, like iron, vitamin D, and calcium.

These nutrients are vital for a child’s growth and development. Almond milk only provides 39 calories, 3g of fat, and 1g of protein per cup. This isn’t enough for a growing child.

Affects Your Thyroid Hormone Levels

Almonds and any other almond milk products are enormous sources of tyrosine which can aggravate a migraine headache if you suffer from them. Also, it isn’t a healthy and safe choice for patients with thyroid conditions.

Besides this, most milk brands that are produced commercially may have soy as fillers, which can also affect your thyroid hormone levels. Almond milk CAN be nutritious and may even be more palatable than other milk products.

But, it might not be healthy for specific individuals who have allergies that can be triggered by drinking any kind of almond drink. The best way to enjoy this drink, or any almond product, for that matter, is to learn about the pros and cons.

As well as to make sure that anyone who DOES drink it doesn’t have any medical conditions that can be affected by its consumption.

…Now that you’ve gotten the 411, keep reading for some ideas on how to incorporate it into your diet.

Uses Of Almond Milk And How To Make It

Almond milk is a versatile drink that can easily be used to substitute cow’s milk.

Below we’ve included some ideas on how to incorporate it into your diet:

  • Enjoy it as a refreshing drink
  • Put it in your cereal, muesli, or oats
  • Substitute dairy milk with the almond one for tea, coffee, or hot chocolate
  • Add it to your smoothies
  • Add it to your cooking and baking, including pancakes
  • Add it to soups, sauces, or dressings
  • Make some homemade ice cream

To make 2 cups of almond milk, you just need two ingredients: almonds and water! You’ll require a nut milk bag and a blender.

  1. Soak a 1/2 cup of some raw almonds and leave overnight.
  2. In your blender, add the soaked almonds with 2 cups of water and blend the mixture until it’s milky and creamy.
  3. Pour your blend into a nut milk bag and strain over a large bowl.
  4. Squeeze out any of the excess moisture until most of the milk has been separated from the pulp.

You can make your almond milk thinner or thicker by adjusting the quantity of water you put in. Add a bit of salt or a drizzle of honey to enrich the flavor if you choose. Note: You can keep the milk for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

…Don’t know what to do with the leftover pulp from making your almond milk? Why not use it to make some chocolate chip and almond cookies?

Almond Milk
Photo by Elena Veselova at Shutterstock

Takeaway

For lactose-intolerant people who are not advised to eat dairy products, almond milk is a popular alternative. Consumers prefer its nutty taste and creamy texture over any other plant-based milk type for both cooking and simply drinking.

In our country alone, it toppled the popularity of soy milk in recent years. So, this milk can be an excellent plant-based choice for those who have to avoid cow’s milk. The unsweetened types are naturally low in calories and sugar while providing lots of vitamin E.

That said, we’ve learned that almond milk is low in protein, and sweetened varieties can be PACKED with sugar.

If you enjoy almond milk, just make sure you select an unsweetened and unflavored version, and don’t forget to add a few protein-rich foods to your diet, including nuts, eggs, beans, seeds, fish, and chicken.

…We hope that all of this wealth of information has helped you decide if almond milk is a suitable choice for your home. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!

And if you are looking for some more helpful advice on how to live a healthier life, you should consider this healthy read: 10 Miraculous Disease Fighting Foods You’re Missing Out On

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