Almond milk is one of the most popular substitutes for cow’s milk. It is a plant-based milk made from almonds. It is highly nutritious and offers multiple health benefits, making it an excellent option for people who have milk allergies, who are lactose intolerant, or who have chosen to avoid eating animal proteins.
What Is Almond Milk?
Almond milk is made by finely grinding almonds with water. It is highly nutritious, as during processing it retains many of the nutritional benefits that are contained in the original nut. Almond milk has been used since medieval times, when it was especially popular because it provided so many nutritional benefits without needing to be refrigerated.
You can make almond milk yourself at home, but it is widely available in stores, as well as in breakfast shops where people add it to their coffees. Almond milk is available in its original form, but can also be purchased in a variety of flavors including chocolate and vanilla. Almond milk can be used just like cow’s milk for baking and in recipes.
1. Almond Milk is a Low-Fat, Highly Nutritious Alternative to Cow’s Milk
Though cow’s milk continues to be the most popular type of milk consumed, almond milk is quickly gaining ground. This is because almond milk offers a wide array of minerals, including potassium, zinc and iron. It is a good source of protein, which helps the body to grown and repair itself. It also contains fiber and vitamins, as well as manganese and phosphorus which help keep bones and teeth healthy. It contains many of the nutrients that we associate with cow’s milk, but without lactose, a milk sugar that can cause digestive upset in many people. Almond milk is also a nutritious choice for people who are vegan or vegetarian.
One 8-ounce cup of plain almond milk contains:
Calories – 40
Protein – 1 gram
Fat – 3 grams
Fiber – 1 gram
Vitamin E – 10 mg (50% of RDV)
Vitamin D – 100 IU (25% of RDV)
Calcium – 200 mg (20% of RDV)
Vitamin A – 500 IU (10% of RDV)
Magnesium – 16 mg (4% of RDV)
Phosphorus – 40 mg (4% of RDV)
Of all the different types of alternative milks available, almond milk is widely believed to offer the most nutritional benefits with the least potential drawbacks.
2. Almond Milk is a Heart Healthy Choice
One of the biggest benefits of choosing a plant-based milk is that it contains no cholesterol and no saturated fats, two of the biggest contributors to heart disease. It is low in sodium and contains omega fatty acids that help to prevent high blood pressure. In fact, not only do people who drink almond milk avoid adding unhealthy cholesterol to their diet, they also get the cardiovascular benefits that almonds have been shown to provide. When almond milk is prepared, the almond’s skin is included in the process, and the skin has high levels of flavanoids that have been linked to cardiovascular health. Additionally, almond milk contains healthy levels of potassium, a mineral that has been shown to be an essential for good cardiovascular function. It can contribute to a lower blood pressure and regulates your heart beat. Insufficient potassium levels can cause disturbances in your heart rhythm.
Bottom Line: Almond milk is an excellent milk substitute for people who are concerned about their risk of cardiovascular disease. It provides many heart healthy nutrients and eliminates the harmful ingredients foud in cow’s milk.
3. Almond Milk Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Almond milk contains some of the essential nutrients that help to move our blood efficiently through our arteries. Studies have shown that there are several nutrients that help lower blood pressure, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids. Almond milk contains all of these. The potassium that it contains is a vasodilator, reducing tension in our arteries. And most commercially-sold almond milk contains calcium, which has been linked to high blood pressure when we don’t take in enough of it.
Bottom Line: Almond milk offers the nutrients that our bodies need to maintain a healthy blood pressure without the harmful fats that are present in cow’s milk.
4. Almond Milk Helps with Weight Management
Plain almond milk contains no added sugars and is low in calories and saturated fat while still providing an excellent source of many of the nutrients that we can miss when we are trying to cut calories. Almonds have been shown to help to increase our energy levels, making it a great drink to help power you through a workout, and the protein that it contains will help your recovery afterwards.
Bottom Line: If you are trying to eliminate fat, cholesterol and extra calories and sugar from your diet, almond milk is an excellent and nutritious alternative to cows milk.
5. Almond Milk Strengthens Bones and Teeth
One cup of almond milk provides nearly one third of the calcium and one quarter of the Vitamin D that we need each day. These essential nutrients are well known for their ability to boost bone and teeth health. Additionally, the magnesium that almond milk contains also helps our bodies to absorb the calcium that it contains, making it more readily available.
Bottom Line: Almond milk provides the nutrients that we need to build strong bones and teeth, as well as to avoid the bone loss that can come as we age.
6. Almond Milk Helps to Build Muscle
Almond milk contains protein, as well as iron and B vitamins that help to keep our muscles healthy and strong. Iron helps our muscles absorb protein and oxygen, while protein helps to repair cellular damage following exercise, ultimately building stronger and larger muscles.
Bottom Line: Adding almond milk to your diet makes essential nutrients bioavailable to help build strong muscles and repair cellular damage.
7. Almond Milk’s Antioxidants Help Keep Eyes and Skin Healthy
Almond milk provides half of the Vitamin E that we need each day. This important nutrient helps to fight the damage caused by free radicals following exposure to chemicals, the sun’s harmful rays, and pollutants in our environment. It is particularly good for maintaining the health of our skin, while the vitamin A in almond milk helps to maintain our vision, boosting our eyes’ ability to adjust to varying light levels.
Bottom Line: Almond milk is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that help to offset and protect against the impact of oxidative stress.
8. Almond Milk Helps to Control Blood Sugar Levels
Almond milk has a low glycemic index. With just 8 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of sugar, our bodies are able to fully digest and make use of the sugars that it contains instead of storing it as fat.
Bottom Line: Almond milk is a good choice for people who have diabetes and who need to control their blood sugar levels.
Tips for Buying and Using Almond Milk
You can purchase your own almond milk at nearly any grocery stores these days, or you can choose to make it yourself. If you are going to make your own, make sure that you choose fresh, high quality almonds. To make it, soak 1 ½ cups of raw almonds in 4 cups of water for several hours, then drain the water and blend the almonds with another 4 cups of water until it has reached the right consistency. You can add chocolate or vanilla flavoring, or add a few soaked dates to the mixture while blending it for added sweetness.
If you are going to purchase almond milk commercially, be sure to check the ingredients list, as some commercially-prepared almond milks contain added sugars and thickeners.