Almond milk isn't anything new, but its emergence into recipes and cafes near you has made almond milk a buzz word in health circles. What we do know is that almond milk is lactose-, soy-, and dairy-free, so it's a great alternative for vegans, anyone allergic to soy and dairy, and the lactose-intolerant. But while you sip on your turmeric latte with almond milk, do you really know why you've made the switch (intolerances aside) and if it's even necessary?
Almond Milk vs. Cow's Milk
We spoke to Transform Health's Lucy Beaumont to chat about why almond milk has all of a sudden become so appealing, and it seems they both have their benefits. If it's low calories you're after, almond milk is your match, but if you are after the milk that's nutritionally rich, cow's milk is the better choice.
"Almond milk is lower in saturated fat and calories and can be a good source of vitamin E (which helps with cell regeneration) and is also full of omega-3 fats, which support balanced mental health and cholesterol levels," added Lucy. "However, regular (cow) milk is rich in lactose, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein, making it more nutritionally rich than almond milk. Regular milk is a great source of calcium at about 300 mg of calcium and 8.5 grams of protein per serving compared to only 130 grams of calcium and 1.5 grams of protein per serving in almond milk."
How Much Almond Milk Is Too Much?
There's no rule as to how much you should be drinking, but if you're adding it to tea or coffee and other breakfast options like muesli, it still won't be a huge intake. Just make sure you're opting for the most nutritious option. "If you are using almond milk to reach your calcium needs over dairy, you need to look for a calcium-fortified formula (that has about 300 mg of calcium per serving)," said Lucy.
What to Look For When Buying Almond Milk
If you've ever tried to buy almond milk at the supermarket, you'll be familiar with the struggle as you stare at the fridge/long-life options and wonder which way to go — it's real. Lucy admitted this is where a lot of people go wrong when it comes to jumping on the almond milk band wagon. "A lot of store-bought almonds milks contain only two percent almonds." — ahh, what?! — "which means you are paying good money for filtered water, not many almonds, and often additives including emulsifiers, sweeteners, or artificially added vitamins," said Lucy.
The best way to choose between the brands on offer is to compare almond content. Ideally, you want to choose almond milks with the highest percentage of almonds that have no sweeteners. "You'll need to check the ingredients label for this, as many labels saying 'original' don't mean unsweetened," said Lucy.
If you are drinking almond milk regularly, you should be making your own. Why? Whipping up your own batch means you'll have a product with a much higher almond content (most recipes use a one part almonds to three parts water ratio), no added sugars, or other nasty fillers which makes it better for you.
Is There a Link Between Almond Milk and Skin Conditions?
This really depends on the individual. Those with nut allergies can have an allergic skin response; it's always best to seek medical advice before giving it a go. "Almond milks with additives such as sugar and vegetable oils are pro-inflammatory and can lead to breakouts and making existing acne conditions worse," said Lucy. "Homemade, unsweetened almond milks are your best options."
Did You Know That Almond Milk Isn't So Great For the Environment?
In fact, almond milk production has a significant impact on the environment. Most of the almond milk comes from California, which produces more that 80 percent of the world's almond supply. "It takes five liters of water to grow one almond and California has been in drought for over five years," said Lucy.