Many people use almond milk as a substitute for cow’s milk. Its nutty flavor and creamy texture make it a natural, dairy free replacement for dairy milk.
But what is almond milk, really? What is almond milk good for? Is it as healthy as dairy milk? What is in almond milk, and how do they make it? And can you make your own almond milk at home?
All these questions answered and more.
Is Almond Milk as Healthy as Milk?
That depends on what you mean by healthy. Almond milk certainly isn’t bad for you. And if you’re watching your cholesterol, substituting almond milk for dairy milk makes good sense.
At the same time, dairy milk contains certain nutrients that almond milk does not. And sweetened almond milk can contain added sugar (though it’s still less sugar overall than you’ll find in semi-skimmed dairy milk).
Let’s see how cow’s milk and almond milk compare.
If you’re watching your waistline, almond milk could be a good choice.
Unsweetened almond milk has less than half the calories per serving that skimmed dairy milk has. Semi-skimmed cow’s milk (1.7 percent fat) has nearly four times the calories per serving as unsweetened almond milk. (1)
And if you can’t give up the sweetness, sweetened almond milk still has fewer calories per serving than dairy milk of any variety, even skimmed.
Dairy products are many people’s go-to source for calcium. But did you know that almond milk contains the same amount of calcium? That’s right. Just 100 millilitres of almond milk (that’s about one-third of a cup) provide 12 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium for adults. Just like dairy milk.
Vitamin B12 is one of those essentials that’s largely found in animal foods. One of its main functions is keeping your nervous system healthy. Cow’s milk and other dairy products are rich in Vitamin B12. Just 200 millilitres (two-thirds of a cup) of semi-skimmed milk can provide all of the Vitamin B12 that a person needs in a day.
Almond milk doesn’t naturally contain a lot of Vitamin B12. However, most commercial almond milks are fortified with B12. In addition, there are plenty of plant-based sources of Vitamin B12, including:
- Fermented soy products like tempeh
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified nutritional yeast
Like calcium, Vitamin D is a nutrient that many people associate with dairy products. However, cow’s milk doesn’t naturally contain Vitamin D at all. The Vitamin D in cow’s milk products is added to help the body to absorb calcium.
Almond milk, on the other hand, is a natural source of Vitamin D. In fact, 300 millilitres (one cup) contains 21 percent of the Vitamin D that an adult requires each day.
Vitamin E is necessary for keeping your skin, eyes, and immune system healthy. When it comes to this nutrient, almond milk is the clear winner.
Dairy milk naturally contains only small amounts of Vitamin E. What’s more, these amounts decrease with the fat content. Skimmed milk contains almost no Vitamin E at all. (2)
Almond milk, on the other hand, is a natural source of this essential vitamin. In fact, 100 millilitres can provide 22 percent of an adult’s daily recommended allowance of Vitamin E. (3)
This is, unfortunately, one area where cow’s milk wins out over almond milk and most other plant based milks.
Skimmed cow’s milk provides nearly nine times the protein per serving of almond milk.
Lucky for us, there are a huge number of vegan-friendly foods that can provide the protein that every body needs, including:
- Soy products like tofu and tempeh
- Seitan (“wheat meat”)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Beans and legumes
- Nutritional yeast
- “Ancient grains” like spelt and teff
- Hemp seeds
- Wild rice
And if you’re looking for a high protein, plant based alternative to add to your coffee, look no further than soy milk.
And the winner is… Actually, skimmed cow’s milk and almond milk have exactly the same amount of saturated fat, which is to say, almost none at all.
However, compared to semi-skimmed milk and whole milk, almond milk has much, much less saturated fat, and much less fat overall.
If your doctor has told you to reduce dietary cholesterol, then the first things to eliminate from your diet are full fat animal products, including dairy milk, cheese, butter, and meat. This is because the largest source of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in our diets is animal fat. (4)
Almond milk, on the other hand, contains no cholesterol at all.
So whether you choose almond milk for compassionate reasons, due to lactose intolerance, or simply because of almond milk’s own inherent nutritional properties, the benefits are clear.
And speaking of those benefits…
What Are the Benefits of Drinking Almond Milk?
Aside from getting a huge nutritional boost with every glass? Check out these amazing benefits.
Almond milk has no cholesterol or saturated fats. What’s more, almonds are packed with nutrients that help to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, including arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that substituting almonds for a high carbohydrate snack can help to lower LDL cholesterol levels, reduce belly fat, and stave off cardiometabolic disease. (5)
Almond milk’s natural Vitamin E content helps to keep skin supple and healthy. It can also reduce the oxidative stress caused by UV light exposure, inadequate diet, and environmental pollution. If that’s not enough, it can help to prevent some skin cancers. (6)
Almonds are a great source of a number of minerals necessary for healthy bones, including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
And these are just a start.
How do Manufacturers Make Almond Milk?
If you’ve decided to choose almond milk as a milk replacement, you may be wondering how it’s made. And if you’re buying almond milk, you’re right to wonder exactly what’s in it and how it is produced.
Here are the basics.
What is Almond Milk Made Of?
The main ingredients are almonds and water.
Some almond milks use organic almonds, and the number of almonds in any given almond milk depends on the manufacturer.
What is in Commercial Almond Milk?
In addition to almonds and water, some store bought almond milk brands are fortified with nutrients like Vitamin B12.
Some brands may also contain emulsifiers to give the milk a smoother texture, and stabilizers to extend the shelf life.
Some commercial almond milks also contain flavorings and sweeteners.
Have you ever wondered how almond milk is made? It’s not too complicated, actually.
First, the manufacturer cleans the almonds. Then the almonds are soaked in hot water.
Once the soaked almonds have plumped up and become soft, they are ground and refined using a colloidal mill.
After that, the almond pulp is filtered out, leaving a milky liquid.
Some manufacturers may homogenize and / or pasteurize the almond milk at this point. In addition, they may add fortifying elements.
Here’s how one company produces their almond milk.
How do You Make Almond Milk at Home?
It’s not hard to make your own homemade almond milk. You can use different types and forms of almonds. You can add flavorings and sweetners, or enjoy it as is.
The great thing is that by making your own you can control everything that goes into your dairy free milk.
And the great thing is, you can use your almond milk recipe to make dairy free milk from other nuts, too, including cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamias.
What You’ll Need to make Homemade Almond Milk
To make your own almond milk, you’ll need:
- Almonds or almond flour
- Fresh water
- Your favorite flavorings
- Immersion blender, food processor, or spice mill
- Strainer, nut milk bag or cheesecloth
- Large bowl
- Large measuring cup
How many almonds do you need for making almond milk? Most almond milk recipes use three parts water to one part almonds. If you keep this in mind, you can make as much or as little as you like.
It can be a great way to use up leftover almonds!
You can use any sort of almonds, by the way: roasted, raw, ground, blanched almonds, and so forth. Each will produce a slightly different taste and texture, so experiment to see which you like the best.
Speaking of tastes, think about flavorings you might want to add to your homemade milk. Popular choices include cinnamon, vanilla extract, agave syrup, maple syrup, and dates.
Unless you’re using almond meal, you’ll be grinding your soaked almonds into almond pulp, so have an immersion blender, food processor or spice mill at the ready.
You’ll also something to strain out the leftover pulp. Some people like to use a nut milk bag, which is a fabric bag with a drawstring. A milk bag isn’t strictly necessary, but it can help you to keep things neat and tidy.
Alternatively, you could use a fine mesh strainer, a cheesecloth, or a clean towel. And don’t forget the bowl to catch the milk that you press out of the almonds.
Keep in mind that the almonds will need to be soaked overnight before you press. So don’t expect to whip up a quick glass of almond milk on the fly.
Method for Making Homemade Almond Milk
Whether you’re using whole almonds or ground almonds, the proportion of water to almonds is the same: three to one (by weight). If you’re using ground almonds (aka almond flour or almond meal), you can skip step 3 below.
Easy Almond Milk Recipe
This almond milk recipe makes four servings.
- 250 grams roasted almonds, raw almonds, or almond flour
- 750 millilitres fresh water
- Any flavorings or sweeteners you like, such as maple syrup or vanilla extract
- Nut milk bag, cheese cloth, or fine mesh strainer
- Start by soaking your almonds overnight. Soaking almonds infuses them with water. When the almonds are ready, they should be plump and much softer.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the soaked almonds into a paste. This should take one to two minutes. You can also use a food processor.
- If you have a milk bag, set it in the bowl and pour the mixture into it. Squeeze the bag until you’ve separated the milk from the pulp. Otherwise, use your cheesecloth or strainer.
- Add any sweeteners or flavorings that you like.
- Decant the milk into a sterilized container. It will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days.
This video can show you how it’s done.
Making Your Own Almond Milk FAQs
Do you have questions? We have answers!
How Long Should You Soak the Almonds For?
Soak your almonds for at least six hours, and preferably overnight.
What Should I do With the Leftover Almond Pulp?
Don’t toss your leftover almond pulp! There’s a lot you can do with it! Try some of these ideas.
- Blitz it into almond hummus
- Toast it to make gluten free breadcrumbs
- Add to smoothies for a protein and fiber boost
And this is just the beginning!
How Long Does Homemade Almond Milk Last?
Homemade nut milks will last three to five days in the refrigerator.
What is the Nutritional Value of Homemade Almond Milk?
Homemade almond milk has the same nutritional values as commercial almond milk. Per 100 milliliters, it has approximately:
- 15 calories
- 1 gram of fat
- No saturated fat
- 1.3 grams carbohydrate
- 0.8 grams sugar
- 0.4 grams protein
- 184 milligrams calcium
This may change, of course, if you add sweeteners or other ingredients.
To Your Health
Almond milk is a nutritional powerhouse, and it’s easy to make your own at home.
Have you made your own almond milk? What’s your favorite recipe? We’d love to hear about it!
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About The Author:
Jess Faraday is a vegetarian from a family of vegetarians. A recent vegan, she wants to spread the word about the benefits of plant-based eating for health, for animals, and for the planet.
- BBC Science Focus | Head to Head: Cow’s Milk vs. Almond Milk | https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/head-to-head-cows-milk-vs-almond-milk/
- Dairy UK | The Nutritional Composition of Dairy Products | https://milk.co.uk/nutritional-composition-of-dairy/milk/#wholemilk
- Halal, F. et ali | 11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Almond Milk | https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/almond-milk-health-benefits#nutrition-facts
- Heart UK | High Cholesterol Food | https://www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/foods-that-contain-cholesterol
- Berryman, C., et ali | Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL‐Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4330049/
- Chen, C. et ali | Flavonoids from almond skins are bioavailable and act synergistically with vitamins C and E to enhance hamster and human LDL resistance to oxidation | https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15930439/