Health benefits of almond milk (and how to make your own)

Almond milk is a nut-based, nutritious drink that has gained in popularity over the past decade.

People have come to prefer the light flavour of almond milk, finding it to be more palatable than other plant-based milk options. It can also can be used as an alternative to dairy milk and more and more recipes that include almond milk are becoming available.

You can even make your own almond milk by soaking, grinding, and straining raw almonds. Because the milk is lower in selected nutrients than dairy, commercial versions add nutrients, such as; calcium, riboflavin, vitamin E, and vitamin D which boost the drink’s nutritional content.

It’s a wonderful alternative for those who can’t or chooses not to drink cow’s milk, and many people drink it because they simply love the taste.

This article takes a closer look at 10 evidence-based health benefits of almond milk and gives insight into how to make your very own at home.

1. Diverse nutritional content

Almond milk has a variety of health-promoting nutrients. The unflavoured variety is relatively low in calories when compared with dairy milk or most other plant-based milk alternatives.

Nutrients in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of plain, unsweetened, almond milk include:

  • Calories: 15
  • Carbs: 0.3 grams
  • Fibre: 0.3 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Fat: 1.2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin E: 22% of the DV
  • Vitamin D: 9% of the DV
  • Potassium: 1% of the DV
  • Calcium: 17% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 4% of the DV

Because almond milk is often used as an alternative to dairy, most manufacturers add vitamins and minerals to the final product helping dairy-free consumers not miss out on valuable nutrients. Fortified almond milk can be a great source of vitamins A, E, and D, as well as calcium.

2. Supports weight management

Fact: plant-based beverages contain fewer calories than regular dairy milk. For people aiming to reduce their calorie intake, switching to almond milk helps to support that goal. Making small changes from high-calorie foods to low-calorie foods can be an effective way to decrease or aid in maintaining calorie intake. But look out, many commercial varieties of almond milk are sweetened or flavoured with added sugars, so they’re higher in calories. It is important to read the nutrition label and ingredient list when purchasing almond milk.

3. Low in carbs

This nutritious drink is naturally low in carbohydrates (unsweetened varieties, of course). A 100-gram serving of almond milk contains approximately 0.3 grams of carbs, most of which is dietary fibre. In comparison, the same amount of dairy milk contains about 4.6 grams of carbs in the form of lactose, a type of natural sugar. Keep in mind that sweetened commercial varieties of almond milk and other plant milk can be much higher in carbs because they contain added sugars.

Added sugars can be easily absorbed and can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Some people with health conditions, such as those living with diabetes, may need to monitor the amount and quality of carbs in their diets.

4. Excellent source of vitamin E

It is an excellent source of vitamin E, naturally containing 22% of the recommended daily vitamin E requirement in a 100-gram portion. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may combat inflammation and stress in your body.

Antioxidants aid in getting rid of excess molecules called free radicals, that can cause damage to your cells. Evidence suggests that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E may also help decrease your cancer risk. Vitamin E may also help protect against cancer, heart disease, and it may benefit bone and eye health.

Vitamin E may even play a role in improving the body’s ability to decrease body fat.

5. Enriched with vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for many aspects of health, including; bone strength, heart function, and immune support. Your body can produce vitamin D naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight, but several people do not get enough vitamin D due to their lifestyle, long working hours indoors, and even skin colour.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, muscle weakness, fertility issues, and infectious diseases. Very few foods contain vitamin D and as such, quite a few commercial products like almond milk are fortified with it.

Not all varieties of almond milk will have vitamin D added (including almond milk made at home), therefore it’s wise to seek other dietary sources of vitamin D if you are not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.

6. Good source of calcium

Dairy milk is a key source of calcium in several people’s diets. A 100-gram serving of whole milk contains 123 milligrams (mg) of calcium, roughly 12% of the daily value. Because almond milk is most often used as a replacement for dairy milk, many manufacturers enrich it with calcium to ensure people are getting their intake. Enriched almond milk is a good source of calcium, containing 17% of the daily value in a 100-gram portion.

Calcium is an important mineral with many health benefits, especially for the young and elderly. Calcium plays a role in the growth and maintenance of strong bones and healthy blood pressure levels. It may also help to reduce your risk of fractures and osteoporosis. If you are making almond milk yourself, you may need to find other sources of calcium to supplement your diet, such as fish, cheese, yoghurt, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens.

7. Lactose-free

Almond milk is naturally lactose-free, making it a wonderful alternative for people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy milk and lactose intolerance is a condition in which people are unable to easily digest lactose.

It is estimated to affect 65–70% of the global adult population and is caused by a deficiency in lactase, the enzyme that’s responsible for breaking down lactose into a more digestible kind. The deficiency is considered to be caused by genetics, certain medical conditions, and sometimes ageing.

Intolerance can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including stomach pain, bloating, and gas.

Since so many people experience lactose intolerance, plant-based alternatives like almond milk that are naturally lactose-free allow sufferers to enjoy the foods that would otherwise contain dairy without the side effects.

8. Vegan friendly

Some people choose to avoid dairy milk for health, religious, environmental, or lifestyle reasons, such as veganism. Since almond milk is plant-based, it’s naturally dairy-free, which makes it vegan-friendly. It’s suitable for most people who want or need to limit dairy. As a dairy-free product, almond milk doesn’t have the proteins that contribute to a dairy milk allergy.

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system is overactivated to protect itself from substances in the environment — many of which wouldn’t otherwise pose danger. Depending on the severity, an allergy can be life-threatening.

It goes without saying though, that it’s not a safe option for people with tree nut allergies.

9. Low in phosphorus with a moderate amount of potassium

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) often avoid milk due to its high levels of phosphorus and potassium. That’s because when your kidneys can’t properly clear these nutrients, there is a risk they will build up in the blood. Having too much phosphorus in the blood may increase your risk of heart disease, hyperparathyroidism, and bone disease. Meanwhile, having too much potassium may increase the risk of irregular heart rhythm and heart attacks.

Dairy milk contains 101 mg of phosphorus and 150 mg of potassium per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), while the same amount of almond milk contains only 30 mg of phosphorus and 60 mg of potassium.

Almond milk is, therefore, a good alternative for people with CKD. However, the amounts of these nutrients may vary from brand to brand, so be sure to always read the nutrition label.

10. Promotes healthy skin and heart functioning

There have been studies to determine if dairy milk may contribute to the development of acne in adults and adolescents. One study including 24,452 adults observed that regular dairy intake appeared to go hand in hand with cases of acne.

The link between dairy milk intake and acne is not well understood, and research is sometimes conflicting. But, it’s worth trialing, if you are concerned about acne. Almond milk may offer a possible alternative that could possibly help clear your skin.

That’s because most almond milk brands are excellent sources of vitamin E and as we read previously, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help to clear cell-damaging free radicals in the body, which in turn damage your skin. Free radicals are unavoidable molecules that can result from normal processes in your body as well as your environments, such as air pollutants and cigarette smoke.

The effects on your skin cannot be attributed to vitamin E alone. Consuming a healthful, balanced diet may help to promote healthy skin.

A lot of folks promote plant-based diets for their potential role in reducing the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Food for thought:

Almond milk is a vegan-friendly, dairy-free beverage that has been growing in popularity over the years. It’s a versatile, healthy alternative to dairy milk with fortified versions being good sources of vitamins A, D, and E, as well as calcium.

It may also promote skin and heart health.

Many commercial varieties of almond milk have been fortified with nutrients which helps people that switch from dairy milk to almond milk get all the vital nutrients that dairy usually provides.

Additionally, it is suitable for most people with lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy, or kidney disease, as well as those who are vegan or avoiding dairy for other reasons.

Here’s how to make almond milk at home in 4 easy steps:

To make 473 ml of almond milk at home, you need just 2 ingredients: almonds and water. You’ll also need a nut milk bag and a blender.

  1. First, soak 65 grams of raw almonds overnight. In a blender, add the soaked almonds with 473 ml of water and blend until the mixture is milky and creamy.
  2. Pour the mixture in a nut milk bag and strain over a large jug or bowl. Squeeze out any excess moisture, until most of the milk is separated from the pulp.
  3. You can make your almond milk thicker or thinner by adjusting the quantity of water.
  4. You may want to add a pinch of salt or a drizzle of honey to enhance the flavour.

The milk can be kept for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Uses of almond milk

This versatile beverage can easily be used as a substitute for dairy milk. You can drink almond milk on its own, add it to cereals and coffee, or use it in a variety of recipes for cooking and baking.

Below are some ideas on how to include it in your diet:

  • as a nutritious, refreshing drink
  • in cereal, muesli, or oats
  • in your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate
  • in smoothies
  • in cooking and baking, such as in recipes for muffins or pancakes
  • in soups, sauces, or dressings
  • in homemade ice cream
  • in homemade almond yoghurt

Try adding it to cereal or coffee, mixing it into smoothies, and using it in recipes for ice cream, soups, or sauces. Ready to put almond milk to the test? 

Click here to shop online: Milklab Almond Milk

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