Those looking for a dairy-free milk substitute have probably stumbled across almond milk and wondered, “Is almond milk good for you?” Whether you’re a vegan, sensitive to milk or just don’t like the taste, almond milk is a fabulous alternative.
While almond milk is becoming more and more popular, it’s important to note that it doesn’t provide as much protein or calcium to be a complete substitute, so make sure you receive adequate amounts from other sources. One cup only has one gram of protein versus 8 grams in cow’s milk, and 2 milligrams of calcium versus 300 milligrams in cow’s milk.
As with everything you buy, make sure to check the labels and purchase almond milk that contains the least amount of preservatives and other additives.
1. It helps with weight management.
One cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories in 2 percent, 102 calories in 1 percent, and 86 calories in skim. It makes for a great substitute that will help you lose or maintain your current weight.
2. It keeps your heart healthy.
There’s no cholesterol or saturated fat in almond milk. It’s also low in sodium and high in healthy fats (such as omega fatty acids, typically found in fish), which helps to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.
3. It keeps your bones strong
While it doesn’t offer as much calcium as cow’s milk, almond milk does offer 30 percent of the recommended daily amount, as well as 25 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin D, reducing your risk for arthritis and osteoporosis and improving your immune function. Plus, these two nutrients work together to provide healthy bones and teeth formation.
4. It keeps your skin glowing.
Almond milk contains 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E, which contains antioxidant properties essential to your skin’s health, such as protecting it against sun damage.
5. It barely impacts your blood sugar.
Almond milk (with no additives) is low in carbs, which means it won’t significantly increase your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for diabetes. Because of its low glycemic index, your body will use the carbs as energy so the sugars aren’t stored as fat (score!).
6. It contributes to muscle strength and healing.
Although almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein per serving, it contains plenty of B vitamins such as iron and riboflavin, both important for muscle growth and healing.
7. It keeps your digestion in check.
Almond milk contains almost one gram of fiber per serving, which is important for healthy digestion.
8. It doesn’t contain lactose.
Lactose intolerance impacts about 25% of the US population, which means they have difficulty digesting the sugar in cow’s milk. This makes almond milk a suitable, lactose-free substitute.
9. It tastes better than cow’s milk.
Almond milk doesn’t taste like cow’s milk, perfect for those who are turned off by the taste. It has its own unique flavor many describe as being light and crisp. Bonus: it’s versatile, meaning you can use it instead of cow’s milk in recipes that require it. It won’t have the same taste, but it will have the same consistency.
10. It doesn’t require refrigeration.
Knowing that you don’t have to refrigerate almond milk means you’ll be more likely to take it with you to work, or on a camping trip. It’s perfectly fine at room temperature which makes it a convenient, nutritious staple to pack, automatically upping your daily intake of all the fabulous nutrients above.
11. It’s easy to make.
Being that it’s a tad inconvenient to have a cow grazing in your backyard, almond milk is the convenient alternative to make at home. It’s made by finely grinding almonds and placing them in a blender with water, then filtering the pulp with a strainer to separate it from the liquid. Want to give it a try?
Here’s a delicious almond milk recipe.
Yield: About 4 cups
Time: About 30 minutes, partially unattended, plus 8 to 12 hours for soaking the almonds
1½ cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon to taste
Freshly ground nutmeg to taste
1. Put the almonds in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Soak the almonds at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. (The almonds will look visibly plumped after soaking.)
2. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Drain the almonds and transfer them to a blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of room-temperature water to the almonds and process for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick paste. Transfer the paste to a medium bowl and add 2 cups of the boiling water. Let steep for about 10 minutes.
3. Working in batches, ladle the almond mixture into a medium- to fine-mesh metal strainer set over a large bowl. Press the ground almonds with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. (Reserve the ground almonds for another use.)
4. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, plus a pinch each of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to the almond milk; whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature or chilled. (Store almond milk in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a few days, stirring before use.)