Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Almond Milk: Is it Really Healthy?

We all know how the trends go. First there is a diet that says don't eat carbs, then another that says eat only carbs. Then there's a "Got Milk" campaign supporting drinking regular cow's milk, and then another stating that milk is bad and you should go for the substitutes. One of the trends that started in recent times was the push for almond milk as a substitute for regular milk.

Don't get me wrong, almond milk has existed for a very very long time. As my Nigerian folks will say "No be today it take start". However, with the discovery of lactose intolerance and health awareness, people are just beginning to really flock that way. 

There are several things to consider when trying to rate a product's nutritional value, so let's take a look. Every brand is different, but I'll focus on 2 popular brands today - Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, and Silk Pure Almond. Please note that we're only looking at the Original almond milk, not the flavored versions, so pay attention to the nutrition information on the boxes if you're going with any flavors like chocolate or vanilla.

Calories: If you are trying to lose weight, build muscle tone, or maintain your fitness level, calories are mucho important. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original contains only 60 calories per cup, which is low compared to regular milk, but so does Silk Pure Almond Original. 60 calories per cup is pretty great compared to about 120 calories in regular 2% dairy milk. So hooray!

Protein: Here's a bit of a kicker. Unfortunately, most almond milk brands contain only about 1g of protein per cup (regular 2% milk contains 8g), which is very low. So if you were using it as a post-workout drink, it definitely wouldn't do. You'd have to meet your daily protein requirements elsewhere.

Vitamins and minerals: To be honest, almond milk contains higher values of a variety of vitamins and minerals, while regular 2% milk is high in certain minerals like calcium. I would say almond milk is a better choice in this regard. And the nutritional value for both brands (Silk and Blue Diamond) are very similar as well.

Ingredients: Now, this is where you might notice a clear difference, and this is where I'd really like you to pay attention at the store when buying your almond milk. Every brand has different additives, and one additive in particular has been singled out as a carcinogen (which means it is a substance that may directly cause cancer). This additive is called Carrageenan. Many almond milk brands contain it making them somewhat unsafe. This is where Blue Diamond and Silk differ: Blue Diamond Almond Breeze contains carrageenan, while Silk Pure Almond does not. If you are looking at other brands, please check for this ingredient on the label as well.

So what am I leaning towards? Almond milk is a great substitute for milk, but make sure you are getting your protein elsewhere. The caloric content is great for anyone watching their weight. But be very careful with the ingredients of the brands you buy, and pay close attention. If you can make your own almond milk at home, even better! That way you won't have to worry about ingredients. Just, you know, invite me over so I can stock up for the week ;)

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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  1. What about sugars? ZERO SUGARS? I find it interesting that Silk tastes least it did when I tried some years ago.

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