Everything You Need to Know About Almond Milk

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Almond milk is a top-selling milk alternative due to the rising popularity of plant-based diets.

Let’s go over almond milk nutrition and the potential benefits (plus drawbacks) of adding almond milk to your diet.

What Is Almond Milk?

To make almond milk, grounded almonds are soaked in water then filtered to remove the fibrous parts.

The result is a smooth liquid that’s naturally sweet and nutty.

Since almond milk is diluted with water, some manufacturers will add thickeners to give it a milky texture.

If you dislike additives, try making almond milk at home by following our homemade almond milk recipe with just two ingredients — almonds and water!

Raw almonds spilling out of small glass bowl

How Healthy Is Almond Milk?

According to Brittany Crump, MPH, RD at Savor Nutrition: “Almond milk can be a good healthy alternative to cow’s milk if you have a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance. I would recommend it if you like the taste and are looking to add a good source of dairy-free calcium.”

Is almond milk healthier than real milk (aka cow’s milk)? Not quite.

Homemade almond milk is not as nutritious as cow’s milk. It hasn’t been fortified and lacks certain vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Storebought almond milk is usually fortified with calcium and vitamins A, D, and E.

Cow’s milk is also fortified with vitamins A and D.

As seen in the table below, both milk types are nutritionally similar, except cow’s milk has more calories, protein, riboflavin, and some minerals (e.g., selenium, magnesium, phosphorus).

So, what is the healthiest milk? It all depends on your needs and preferences.

Cow’s milk is a nutrient-dense food and is typically a top source of calcium and vitamin D.

This fact is true for either type of milk.

But almond milk is the clear winner if you have lactose intolerance, are allergic to dairy, or follow a plant-based diet.

Unsweetened Almond Milk (1 cup) Low-Fat Cow’s Milk (1 cup)
Calories 37 105
Fat (g) 2 2
Protein (g) 1 8
Carbohydrates (g) 3 13
Calcium (mg) 449 307
Magnesium (mg) 15 29
Selenium (mcg) 0.2 5
Phosphorus (mg) 22 251
Riboflavin (mg) 0 0.3
Vitamin E (mg) 7 0
Vitamin A (mcg) 220 142
Vitamin D (mcg) 2.4 2.7

Woman preparing oatmeal with almond milk

4 Benefits of Almond Milk

1. Almond milk is lower in calories

Almond milk nutrition facts show that it’s just 37 calories a cup compared to 105 calories for low-fat milk.

It’s no wonder that caffeine aficionados replace cow’s milk with almond milk in their daily coffee treat!

While this may seem to be a calorie-saving food swap, it doesn’t mean you can’t overeat elsewhere.

2. Almond milk is high in vitamin E

Almonds are naturally high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects you from harmful free radicals from the environment and natural human metabolism.

Just a cup of almond milk can supply almost 50% of your needs for vitamin E!

3. Almond milk is good for certain allergies and sensitivities

After infancy, about 65% of us will have trouble digesting lactose, the main sugar in milk. Almond milk will be easier on your stomach if you belong to that camp.

Plus, people with milk or soy allergies — both very prevalent allergies—can appreciate that almond milk exists.

4. Almond milk works for plant-based diets

Followers of a vegan or vegetarian diet can use almond milk as a one-to-one replacement for cow’s milk in recipes from baked goods to soups, smoothies, and even this really basic almond milk oatmeal.

glass of almond milk on white background

3 Potential Drawbacks of Almond Milk

1. Almond milk is lower in protein

Says Crump, “Almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein per serving, while cow’s milk has 8 grams of protein per serving.”

Plus, the protein in cow’s milk is “high-quality,” meaning it’s complete (has all 20 amino acids) and has a high biologic value (can efficiently be used by your body).

Protein is vital for forming nearly all your bodily structures, including skin, hair, bone, muscle, blood, etc.

2. Almond milk may contain added sugar and other additives

Storebought almond milk may have added sugar — the stuff we should be cutting down on — to improve its taste.

Certain almond milk varieties may also contain carrageenan, a seaweed extract to make the milk thick and creamy.

While carrageenan has safely been used for many years in food production, people with irritable bowel syndrome may find that it can cause gas and bloat.

Don’t like sneaky additives? Look for unsweetened almond milk, and remember to check the ingredient list before you buy.

3. Almond milk isn’t all that sustainable

While almond milk’s carbon footprint is smaller compared to cow’s milk, growing almonds to meet commercial needs can take a toll on the environment.

It takes 15 gallons of water to grow 16 almonds — just imagine the scale of this problem in drought-prone California, where 80% of the world’s almonds are grown.

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