Is Almond Milk Healthy for you or is it Scam?
Are you not sure if almond milk is good for you? If you have been hearing a lot about almond milk and want to know if it is something you may want to try, keep reading 17 ways that almond milk can be healthy for you.
1) You can make your own almond milk & save money
One of the biggest complaints of almond milk haters is that it is made up of almonds and water. But if you happen to be a fan of the stuff, this makes it pretty easy to make yourself with a few ingredients that you can buy anywhere. And since almond milk can sometimes be a bit on the expensive side this means that if you are a big DIY’er then you can have as much almond milk as you want, if you are willing to put in a bit of time making it.
Pros: You no longer have to be a slave to supermarket almond milk prices if you are trying to eat healthy on a budget. You can buy your own almonds and a high quality blender (I don’t think a $20 blender will do here) and you can quickly have your own milk. So, how much will doing this cost, and how does it compare to the store bought milk?
Note: These prices are not scientific, other than me using a calculator on my phone. Prices came from Walmart.com which I think is going to be pretty average for most people.
Store price = About $3.32 for 5 cups of unsweetened almond milk at Walmart (64 oz size broken down into 5 cups to match homemade recipe)
Homemade Price = $5.23 for 5 cups if you follow this recipe
Almonds = $6.98 for 16oz bag
Cons: It looks like per every 5 cups of almond milk that you make at home you will spend $1.91 more than if you just buy your almond milk at your local Walmart, assuming everything you do is the same as what I did. I know that for many people, this is all of the evidence needed to give a big thumbs down to making homemade almond milk, and I can relate to that.
2) Almond milk tastes pretty good?
This is a matter of personal opinion, but in mine..almond milk is pretty good and light. There are a few types of the stuff that you can find in the store though, and not all are going to be equal, so let’s break them down here.
Sweetened – Sweetened almond milk is going to have some sort of added sugar to it. Whether it’s agave or honey or granulated sugar or high fructose corn syrup though, your body won’t know the difference..and I say that in a bad way. Studies have shows that rats that were given high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) gained more weight than rats who had only regular “rat chow”. There is also a growing evidence that consuming too much added sugar of any type can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, fatty liver and metabolic disorder, just to name a few of the most fun things.
A typical 8oz glass of sweetened almond milk contains about 7 grams of added sugars, which equals almost 2 teaspoons. The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association both recommend no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day for men and 6 teaspoons per day for women. So if you buy the sweetened almond milk you are already at around 1/3 – 1/4 of your daily maximum per 8oz cup.
Unsweetened – Unsweetened almond milk has no sugar, but it also doesn’t taste too sweet. I believe there can be a balance to anything in life, so if you otherwise watch your sugar intake and eat a healthy diet, then the sweetened type isn’t going to be the worst thing you drink in a given day. I mostly use almond milk in my awesome shakes though, which are sweetened with bananas and dates, so the unsweetened type is fine with me.
Vanilla – Most vanilla almond milk that I have seen can come either sweetened or unsweetened, with vanilla added. It tastes pretty good if you ask me, but I generally still just get the plain ‘ole regular kind, but you may love the vanilla flavored stuff.
Chocolate – Chocolate almond milk will have about 17 grams of added sugar per cup, so if your health is a concern you will probably want to stay away from it. There is basically not any real health benefit once you factor in more than 4 teaspoons of sugar per 8oz cup.
3) Almond milk has a lower carbon footprint than dairy milk
What is a carbon footprint, and should you care about it? Only you know if you care about what a carbon footprint is or not, but I can tell you what it means. The definition of a carbon footprint is:
The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)
What is the carbon footprint of almond milk vs regular milk?
For comparison, let’s look at the carbon footprint from producing a gallon of regular cows milk to a gallon of almond milk. One gallon of milk from a dairy cow has an impact of 17.6 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2e). Finding an exact number for almond milk was a bit tricky to be honest, but from this chart it appears to be less than 1. While looking at some of this information I found all kinds of arguments for the negative effects of almond milk and cows milk. The truth is, this isn’t a scientific paper about the environmental impacts of milk. If this is enough information for you to do your own digging to learn all of the facts, I only am trying to play a tiny part in that.
4) Almond milk is vegan friendly
Chances are that if you are vegan you may already know about almond milk, and if you drink almond milk you may already be vegan, but this isn’t always the case. Everybody has different reasons for why they eat or drink certain things. The great thing about almond milk is that it is nutritious, delicious and if you are someone who cares about animals and doesn’t like to see them used as a human food source, then almond milk may be perfect for you.
5) Almond milk is low calorie
I am outspoken about how stupid I think counting calories is. I think that when you spend your life thinking about calories and nothing else but calories you miss the bigger picture, which is your health. There is not a single conversion that turns a calorie into some amount of vitamin A or thiamine or lower triglycerides or any reduced risk of disease. But that is my opinion, and most people don’t share it with me. If you are concerned with calories and calories play a big part in your decisions, almond milk is pretty low in them. How low?
How Many Calories in Almond Milk vs Regular Milk?
Calories in Milk[table id=2 /]
Calories in Almond Milk[table id=3 /]
What is a lot more important to me instead of calories is added sugar. Unsweetened milk has no added sugar of course, and chocolate has about 20 grams (5 teaspoons) which is about 3 times the recommended intake. Regular sweetened almond milk has about 7 grams of added sugar per cup, which if you watch every other food you eat and really limit your sugar wouldn’t kill you.
It is very hard to count calories and lose weight, at least for the long-term. But when you cut sugar out of your diet the weight comes off a lot easier…and this is why I don’t care about calories.
6) Almond milk has healthy fat
I am of the opinion that fat doesn’t make you fat, and the people at Harvard Health agree. To see whether this is true using common sense is really easy. Look at all of the low and non-fat foods we have in our society today, and then look at obesity rates. It seems very clear, at least to me, that eating low fat is a huge mistake. In fact, the human body needs fat in order to live and be healthy. The other thing about eating low fat foods is that they are generally loaded with sugar if food companies make those foods low fat.
Why do low fat foods need sugar?
Because fat tastes good. Since we need fat to survive, we naturally want it and crave it. When you remove it from food it really starts to taste like a foot. So to make it taste better food manufacturers realized they could add a ton of added sugar to the food and people would eat it. And to see whether or not that worked just go outside of your home and count the obese people you see. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
The idea that “fat” is this one word that always means something bad is simply not true and you will do you body really great to consume certain types of fat, especially the kind found in almonds. A fat like this is never going to be “fattening” because your body needs it for better health. To avoid foods like almonds because they cause weight gain is kind of like avoiding water because it causes your throat to get wet! Your body needs fat to live, but you need to make sure it is the right kind of fat. Almonds have this healthy fat, and therefore almond milk has this type of healthy fat.
Maybe it will help to look at it like this. Your car needs oil to be able to drive, right? Well, when you think of healthy fats from foods like nuts, avocados and certain types of fish think of putting fresh, clean oil in your car. When you think of eating foods with trans fats or saturated fats (steak, cheese etc) think of putting in brown sludge that has already been used for 250,000 miles in your car.
7) Almond milk is lactose free
It is estimated that between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. If drinking traditional cow milk makes you feel less than great, this may be enough reason to try almond milk alone.
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance can make you feel bloated, filled with gas and have fun diarrhea if you continue drinking regular milk with lactose. It’s basically your body telling you that it just doesn’t agree with drinking milk from a cow or any other dairy product. I know that some people think this is all nonsense, but if you have ever drank some dairy milk and felt terrible afterward you know that it’s not really that much fun.
I am not sure if I qualify as being technically intolerant to lactose or not, but I can tell you that milk never made me feel very good. If you are tired of drinking regular milk and feeling gross afterwards, you may want to consider trying almond milk.
8) Almond milk is gluten-free
Eating gluten free seems like one of the biggest fads out right now. There are more and more foods labeled “gluten-free” at the store, and most people have no idea what it even means. Choosing to eat gluten free is hardly a crime, but there are people who MUST eat gluten free in order to be healthy.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.
Will Gluten Kill Me?
For any person suffering from celiac disease, eating gluten free is not a choice…they have to eat this way or face some serious consequences. But almond milk is not the only gluten-free milk for someone with this condition. Regular cows milk is actually gluten-free just like almond milk, so if you are looking at this one and only fact when choosing a milk, you will still be safe drinking dairy milk.
9) You can make guilt-free desserts with almond milk
What? Isn’t dessert out of the question when you are on a “diet”? Well, here at The Weight Loss Lie we don’t believe in diets, because they are a waste of time. I make a chocolatey banana almond milk shake about 25 times a month, and it is one of my favorite things in the world. Almond milk and carrot juice are the main base of this drink and it is a treat that we have all the time. Because of the banana and dates and other goodies in this shake, you don’t need the sweetened almond milk at all.
I think this is an important point for some people. It seems like when you go on a “diet” there are so many things that are out of bounds or “not allowed”. I personally stay away from the sugar versions of any almond milk products, but it’s not because it isn’t allowed, it is because I don’t want very much sugar in my life. With the unsweetened type of almond milk you can have basically as much as you want in your cereal or shakes or smoothies and you don’t have to worry about points or calories or any other thing that so many people consume their time with these days.
10) Almond milk can contribute to better health
What good is losing weight if you aren’t healthy? There are a lot of people who preach weight loss and calories and all of this without any advice on better health. If you have ever met a thin person that has high blood pressure or chronic heartburn or some other fun thing they are sick with every day you know they aren’t really very healthy.
How Can Almond Milk Make Me Healthier?
We already know that almonds have healthy monounsaturated fats in them, but what else? Almonds have several vitamins and minerals that are great for your health, including your heart health. Let’s take a look at some of these now.
11) Almond milk has vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant that helps defend your body against harmful “free radicals”. If you are concerned with aging (wrinkles, skin aging) you have probably heard this term before. But vitamin E is a lot more than some random antioxidant that makes you look younger, it is powerful in your body by protecting you from cancer, strokes, heart disease and it protects you from “bad” LDL cholesterol by not allowing it to be oxidized, which in turn can lead to clogging of your arteries and all of those fun diseases.
12) Almond milk has potassium
Many foods have the mineral potassium in them, which is great considering you need it to be alive. And like many other substances found in food, you can have too much or too little potassium, both of which can mean certain death! But you don’t have to worry about that when drinking a bit of almond milk. A typical 8oz cup of almond milk will have about 35mg of potassium, which is less than 1% of the daily recommended allowance for an adult. So you may not overdose on potassium drinking almond milk, but at least you will get a little bit to add to your daily total.
13) Almond milk has magnesium
Magnesium is another important mineral in your body that is found in a lot of different foods. Magnesium can help you with muscle function, nerve function and glucose (blood sugar) among many other bodily functions that it helps out with. Drinking almond milk can supply you with about 4% of your daily recommended allowance (RDA) per 8 oz cup. No matter where you get your magnesium from in your food, it is essential to life so you want to make sure to get enough during your day.
14) Almond milk has vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is another important vitamin that your body can not function without. It is responsible for playing a role in energy production and is believed to protect your body from those harmful free radicals we talked about earlier. Vitamin B2 is in many foods and is pretty available to most people these days, but you will get about 30% of your daily RDA from one cup of almond milk.
15) Almond milk has iron
Iron is pretty important if you want to be alive and have plenty of fresh red blood cells in your body. Iron deficiency can cause a lot of problems including anemia, brittle nails and skin ailments just to name a few. While drinking almond milk won’t give you a huge dose of iron (about 2% of your RDA) it will give you a little bit and contribute to your overall health.
16) Almond milk has a tiny amount of calcium
Unless you get almond milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D a typical serving won’t save you from brittle bone syndrome. So while almond milk does have calcium just like regular cow’s milk, it is not going to be as much as the cow variety. If you are on the fence about switching to almond milk and getting enough calcium is on your top 10 list of best benefits, this may not be the best news. But the truth is that many almond milks that you can buy in the store will be fortified with calcium, so this may sway you back towards the almond way of life.
17) Can I Drink Almond Milk With Gallstones?
A group of women from the Womens’ Health Study were questioned every 2 years about their nut consumption and whether or not they had a cholecystectomy in that period. Do you know what researchers found? That women who ate an average of 1 oz of nuts like almonds per week had a “significantly” lower risk of having the procedure. What is a cholecystectomy? It’s that fun surgery where they remove your gallbladder.
Can we look at almond milk and say that if you drink almond milk you will definitely not have gallbladder problems? Of course not, but this is a lot better news than hearing that this group of nurses gained weight or had increased risks for diabetes or other illnesses.
Is Almond Milk Good for YOU?
I think there are plenty of health benefits of almond milk. I don’t “drink” any type of milk because when I’m thirsty a thick glass of any type of milk just doesn’t sound good. But if I want cereal or my daily milk shake I want a milk that has some nutritional value, isn’t loaded with sugar and doesn’t come from a cow and no soy milk either. So for me, that leaves almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk and I’m sure a few others that I haven’t tried or heard about yet.
What is right for you depends on how you make decisions. If cow milk grosses you out, you may love almond milk,…or you may hate it. You may prefer coconut milk or hemp milk. Or you may decide to give up milk altogether, since milk is not something that anybody “needs” to drink.
After becoming much lighter and much healthier I learned that when it comes to diet, nobody wants to be told what to eat or do. I think that if almond milk literally cured cancer there would still be people who would refuse to drink it. There are plenty of people who argue, and will continue to argue on the side of regular dairy milk for many years to come. If you are one of these people, good for you. You can have whichever milk you love to drink, and you can drink it for the reasons that make YOU passionate about them.
That is what I love about our society. We all have choices that we can make. I hope that after learning some things about almond milk that you were able to make a better decision as to which milk you want to drink in your daily life, whether it comes from a cow or an almond or a coconut or a soy bean!
1 – https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/
2 – http://www.who.int/nutrition/sugars_public_consultation/en/
3 – http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Added-Sugars-Add-to-Your-Risk-of-Dying-from-Heart-Disease_UCM_460319_Article.jsp
4 – http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/100/11/1253.full
5 – http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenfreefoodshoppin1/ss/Gluten-Free-Food-List_4.htm
6 – http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/1/76.short