Almond milk is one of several plant-based milk products that have been blowing up the market for some time now. These plant-based milks became a great alternative to people with lactose intolerance. They’re also popular choices for those who choose a dairy-free diet for other reasons, like veganism. Now almond milk, along with soy and coconut milk, is even sort of, well, hip. Almond milk lattes are no longer hard to come by at your local coffee shops. But, the product may not be as great as its clean, compelling packaging touts. There is actually the problem with almond milk, and that problem has less to do with almonds and more to do with water.
What do we actually drink when we consume almond milk? The product, like any other, lists its ingredients in order of greatest quantity to smallest. And the first on the list? Water, of course. This is to be expected. Almond milk is, after all, made by finely blending water and almonds and straining. But the ratio of water to almonds may be higher than many people realize. This ratio can be determined by looking at the nutritional facts.
A single serving of almonds is one ounce, i.e. one handful or 23 almonds. Almonds are nutritious—that part is no fib. They’re full of protein and good fat, vitamins and antioxidants. One serving has six grams of protein and three grams of fiber.
If you look at the nutritional facts on a jug of almond milk, however, one serving has just one gram of protein and one gram of fiber.
This should give you an idea of how little almond is actually in your beverage. The problem with almond milk is that while, yes, it still has the nutrients from almonds in it, they are far less in quantity than if you were to eat just plain almonds. The nutritional information alone suggests that a jug of almond milk containing eight servings is made with only a handful of almonds. So, you’re paying much more for less benefits than what you’d get in straight almonds.
“You don’t care,” you say. “It’s still a tasty alternative for my cereal.” And that it is. But, there are a few other things consumers should know—just to know. For one, most almond milks do have a few additives, like carrageenan, a common stabilizer. And, many brands and versions of almond milk have added sugar. Do we really need more sugar in our diets? While some brands boast that their almond milk contains certain vitamins, these are added in after the fact. This is a benefit that you could get just as easily by taking a multivitamin.
So, almond milk: tasty? Sure. A crucial, healthy part of your diet? Not really. The problem with almond milk is, like in so many other manufactured foods, the goodness and nutrients of the natural plants are sacrificed for profit. So enjoy it if you must, but if its health benefits you’re looking for? Stick to the real thing.
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