Almond milk is a milk substitute created by finely grinding almonds together with water. It enjoys a long history as a popular food. Medieval European recipes frequently called for almond milk. As well, it has always been a popular beverage in the Middle East. The modern blender makes the composition of almond milk much easier than it would have been in the Middle ages, because the blended almonds are much finer, resulting in a finer consistency milk.
One of the reasons for the popularity of almond milk in the Middle Ages was its high protein content, and its ability to keep better than milk from dairy sources. If cow, sheep, or goat milk wasn't prepared quickly to make cheese or butter, it soon soured. Almond milk, conversely, could be made as needed, in the quantities needed. Further, dry almonds were easy to store and did not require the cold temperatures for storing fresh milk.
Today, almond milk is particularly popular among those who are part of the Raw Food movement. Supporters for Raw Food preparation believe that cooking foods deprives them of their highest mineral and vitamin content. Foods eaten raw, on the other hand, are believed to be higher in natural nutrients. Merely soaking almonds in a jar of water in the refrigerator for a day, then blending and straining the liquid can make almond milk. The high protein content is comparable to milk, and most prefer the taste to soy or rice milk.
Almond milk is indisputably nutritious with little to no saturated fat, unlike cow's milk, and no lactose, which many find indigestible. Some doctors suggest, however, that almond milk should not be given to children transitioning from formulas, as early introduction of nuts to a child's diet may predispose the child to severe nut allergies. Obviously, anyone with a peanut allergy should verify no almond allergy exists prior to using the product.
Contrary to the Raw Food movement, most recipes call for the almonds to be boiled, prior to soaking. As well, many recipes call for almond milk made from roasted almonds. Many prefer almond milk made from roasted rather than raw almonds, since it yields a slightly richer flavor.
One can find commercially made almond milk in natural food stores. It does not yet have the popularity of soy or rice milk, so it is a little harder to find. It makes an excellent substitution for milk products in many recipes. However, recipes that require a high fat content milk or half-and-half may not produce the same results with almond milk. Almond milk lends itself particularly well to recipes for pancakes, for blancmange and is also excellent in smoothies.
In this world of
substitutes, food products can be easily replaced for one another.
We've heard about soy milk being used as an alternative to cow's
milk, however, what about almond milk? Almond milk like soy milk is
not milk in the literal sense. It is a drink made from ground almonds
and water. Almonds soaked for 6-8 hours in water are drained and
blended with water until a milk-like consistency is obtained. The
skin and granules are removed by straining. Blending a few dates
along with the almonds gives it a sweet taste. Almond milk nutrition
facts as well as its health benefits make it a suitable replacement
for cow's milk. Almond milk can be prepared at home and is also
available at supermarkets.
Almond milk is being
basically used instead of cow's milk by people who are not too fond
of cow's milk, as it tastes better than cow's milk. Children who fuss
about drinking cow's milk can be given almond milk. They prefer
almond milk's taste as compared to soy or rice milk. This non-dairy
alternative is also used by those who show lactose intolerance
symptoms. Since almond milk is extracted from almonds, it is
lactose-free and can be easily consumed by lactose intolerant people.
Nutritional Value of Almond Milk
8 fl. oz. or one serving of unsweetened almond milk contains about 30-40 calories, 2.5-3 g of fat, 1 g of protein, 1 g of fiber and some vitamins and minerals. Let us have a deeper look at how these nutrients are beneficial to our bodies.
The calorie content of almond milk is lesser (half) than cow's milk or soy milk. Thus, people desiring to lose weight can happily lap up almond milk. Almond milk is a good option for athletes and weight conscious people.
The calcium content in almond milk is lower than in cow's milk, but is higher in calcium content than soy milk. Nevertheless, packaged almond milk is calcium fortified, so this need not be an issue. Just shake the pack before opening it, as calcium particles tend to settle down.
Saturated and Unsaturated Fat Content
Almond milk is loaded with unsaturated fat, which means almond milk is beneficial in reducing the risk of heart diseases. It helps reduce the bad cholesterol in the blood. Moreover, almond milk does not contain cholesterol and saturated fats. It also contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Thus, people with high blood cholesterol and heart disease can consume almond milk without any inhibitions.
The protein content in almond milk helps the growth and repair functions of the body. However, almond milk contains lesser protein content in one serving as compared to cow's milk or soy milk. So if you are completely off cow's milk and drinking almond milk on a regular basis, it is important to eat other protein-rich foods, so as to meet the adequate protein requirements of the body.
Almond milk does not contain sugar naturally. Packaged almond milk available in stores have added sugar and flavorings which increase the sugar content. However, homemade almond milk contains no sugar and is safe for diabetics. Moreover, since almond milk is lower in carbohydrate content, diabetics can safely enjoy almond milk.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Almond milk also furnishes the body with high levels of manganese, selenium and vitamin E. Manganese plays an important role in activating enzymes in the body. Manganese along with phosphorous also plays a role in keeping bones and teeth healthy. Vitamin E, an antioxidant protects the cell membranes by destroying the free radicals that cause damage to them.
Selenium on the other hand is good for the functioning of the immune system, for reproduction and for metabolism of the thyroid gland. The magnesium obtained from almond helps break down the food consumed into energy. It also assists the functioning of the parathyroid glands, which are responsible for production of hormones known for good bone health. The potassium present helps maintain normal blood pressure.
Flavonoid and Antioxidant Content
Almond milk is also a good source of flavonoids. This is because, almond milk is prepared by crushing the almonds with the skin. The skin is rich in flavonoids, which is good for cardiovascular health, thereby providing protection against various heart diseases. Almond milk is also rich in antioxidants, thus, is beneficial in preventing heart diseases and cancers.
Almond milk can be prepared as when required. Once prepared it can be stored in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Moreover, since almond milk has not been cooked, it eliminates the loss of various vitamins and minerals during the cooking process. Almond milk is healthy, flavorful and tasty and a glass of almond milk is a good and healthy choice.
Raw almonds, 1½ cups
Filtered water, 4 cups
Soak almonds in water for
minimum six to eight hours. Drain the water, and blend the almond
with 4 cups of water, until it reaches a milk like consistency.
Strain it to remove almond skin and granules. One can store almond
milk in an air-tight jar in the refrigerator for four to five days.
If you want it to be sweeter, then blend in a few soaked dates as
Almond milk contains more nutrients than other dairy milk alternatives like rice milk. The health benefits provided by this option even match dairy choices. Almond milk works as a great alternative for those with soy and lactose allergies.
Health benefits of almonds include lowering blood sugar levels and treating constipation. And these benefits can even be obtained by drinking almond milk.
Plain almond milk without added sugars or flavoring contains 60 calories per each 8 oz serving size. This option works well for people looking to lose or maintain weight.
The low caloric content of almond milk causes less of an impact on our totally daily consumption of food calories. Some milk varieties contain more sugars than the cereal that they get combined with.
Almond milk contains no cholesterol and only 5 mg of sodium per serving. Consuming foods low in sodium and cholesterol help us to maintain better heart health and normal blood pressure.
Without cholesterol, almond milk also decreases our chances of gaining bad cholesterol levels, all while increasing the good cholesterol levels. Almond milk also contains 150 mg of potassium in every serving. This mineral works to promote healthy blood pressure.
Blood Sugar Friendly
Unlike other milk alternatives, the plain almond option contains only 8 grams of carbohydrates per serving. The 7 grams of sugars that make up the carbohydrate content have a limited affect on our blood sugar levels. When we consume simple sugars, our metabolic functions tend to miss the nutrients, storing much of the carbs as fat.
Instead, the low amount of sugars in almond milk have a low glycemic nature, meaning our bodies fully digest them and use them as energy. Diabetics benefit from this characteristic as well.
Almond milk contains 30% of our recommended daily value of calcium and 25% of Vitamin D. These nutrients work together to build strong bones in men, women, children and infants.
Vitamin D also helps improve immunity and cell function. Some studies have shown that Vitamin D helps decrease osteoporosis and even Alzheimer's disease. The magnesium in found in almond milk helps absorb more of the calcium provided by the nutritious beverage.
Every serving of pure almond milk contains 50% of our recommended daily value of Vitamin E. This powerful nutrient has antioxidant abilities in that it helps regulate Vitamin A use and availability.
More importantly, Vitamin E acts the primary regulatory nutrient that improves skin health.
The moderate levels of Vitamin A found in almond milk helps keep our eyes functioning properly. Vitamin A directly influences the eye's ability to adjust to differences in light.
More Muscle Power
Even though almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein per serving, it does contain B Vitamins in the form of riboflavin, plus other muscle regulating nutrients like iron. Each serving of almond milk contains about 4% of our recommended daily intake of iron, which helps muscles absorb and use protein for energy, growth and repair.
Iron also regulates certain cell functions like oxygen absorption.
Lactose is the sugar found in cow's milk. Many people are lactose intolerant, and consumption of milk causes abdominal discomfort, bloating and diarrhea. As almond milk is extracted from almonds, a nut, hence it's plant derived and lactose free, and can be easily substituted everywhere where one might use cow's milk which makes this one of the most important almond milk benefits.
Homemade and Pure
As one can easily extract the milk at home without much effort, and also store it without using preservatives and additives, it would be right to say that consuming almond milk means to consume health, 100 percent! It has already been proved that to increase milk production, cows are being injected with antibiotics and growth hormones, leading to allergic reactions and toxic side effects, some as bad as certain types of cancers.
Almonds are protein rich, and full of vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, fiber, iron, phosphorus and calcium. Full of heart healthy flavonoids, almond milk helps lower LDL cholesterol and protect the heart. High levels of vitamin E, ensure powerful antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants inhibit the growth of free radicals that are known to cause cancer. Almond milk contains many vital nutrients, hence unlike other milk, they don't need to be fortified with vitamins and minerals. Low in calories and no cholesterol and saturated fats makes this nut milk beverage very healthy and good for those trying to lose weight. Power packed with nutrients, almond milk health benefits will keep you stay fit and fine.
However, a word of caution
- almond milk cannot be substituted for breast milk. Although the
health benefits of almonds are many, it does not have the necessary
adequate nourishment required for infant growth. For lactose
intolerant babies, it's best to consult a doctor on what would be
best for the child. Nuts like almonds also include goitrogens;
this substance is known to suppress thyroid gland functioning by
interfering with iodine uptake. The use of bitter almonds has also
been cautioned against, as bitter almonds, when blended with water,
release cyanide; a poisonous chemical.
Buy good quality almonds, to not only extract its milk, but also for the many almond milk benefits. And if you don't want to have it bland, add in some chocolate or vanilla flavor to create an instant yummy healthy drink!
Almond milk is considered to be a goitrogenic food, i.e., it contains chemicals that can harm the thyroid when consumed in large amounts. For people whose thyroid function is low, it's best to drink almond milk in moderation.
Almond milk is not the best kind of milk for infants. It does not contain the right levels of nutrition for an infant and hence should not be substituted for breast milk or formula.
Commercially produced almond milk contains more sugar than cow's milk, which is the most obvious disadvantage.
Almond milk is naturally not advisable for people with allergies to nuts.