Almond Milk - Nutritional And Health Benefits, And Some Side Effects
About Almond Milk
Almond milk is made by blending raw almonds, that have been previously soaked in water overnight, with water to produce nutrient rich almond milk, a popular dairy milk substitute.
Almond milk is a great alternative for those allergic to dairy milk and is a great choice for vegans too.
It is good to drink and can also be used in recipes that require milk as it is rich and creamy. Some people prefer its nutty, light and crisp taste to that of dairy milk.
Almond milk can be used to make tea, coffee or smoothies. It can also be used in baking, to make ice cream, soups, puddings and as a replacement for buttermilk. Use it in hot or cold cereals to replace dairy milk.
Almond milk does not need refrigeration and is thus easier to store than dairy milk. Being free of lactose it is easier digested than dairy milk.
Commercially Available Almond Milk
Commercially available prepackaged almond milk does not provide the same benefits as homemade almond milk as they have :
- Added additives and preservatives
- Added synthetic vitamins
- May have added sugar
All the above reduce the beneficial effects of almond milk.
Good healthy almond milk can be made easily at home by blending together :
- 1 cup raw almonds soaked overnight in water
- a few pitted dates
- a pinch of salt
- 3 cups of water
Blend for a few minutes in a blender and strain out the almond pulp through a cheesecloth. The almond milk can stay good for 3 days in the fridge. You can use the residual almond pulp in making cookies, crescent, added to yogurt etc.
Watch the video below to see how easy it is to make almond milk at home
Homemade Almond Milk
Compare The Nutrients In Dairy Milk
A serving of 8 ounces of whole dairy milk provides :
- High levels of protein about 8 grams.
- High levels of fat at 8 grams.
- High content of saturated fat at 5 grams per serving.
- Contains 24 mg of cholesterol and provides 146 calories per serving.
Nutritional Benefits Of Almond Milk
A serving of 8 ounces of almond milk provides the following nutritional benefits :
- A number of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A and E, the minerals magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.
- A decent amount of fiber more than that in dairy milk.
- About 40 calories thus being low in calories than dairy milk.
- Also low in fat at 3 gms per serving.
- Is free of lactose, gluten, casein, cholesterol and saturated fats.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Provides 4% of the daily requirement of iron.
- Low in carbohydrates at 8 grams per serving and has low glycemic index.
- Provides 10% of the daily requirement of Vitamin A & 50 % of Vitamin E.
Almond milk is healthier as it contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. It also contains high levels of antioxidants. The only drawback is that almond milk is low in protein at 1 gram per serving of 8 ounces.
Health Benefits Of Almond Milk
Some of the healthy benefits of almond milk are :
- Lowers LDL cholesterol due to the monounsaturated fats in it.
- The flavonoids help protect against heart disease.
- Almond milk is easily digested and is free of lactose making it ideal for those suffering from lactose intolerance.
- It is free of antibiotics and growth hormones which are present in cow's milk. Growth hormones are injected in dairy to raise milk production.
- Also contains heart healthy poly and monounsaturated fats.
- Almond milk suppresses prostate cell cancer growth according to a study published in a 2011 issue of Cancer and Nutrition.
- Homemade almond milk is free of sugar and is low in calories thus helping to lose or maintain weight.
- It is low in sodium but high in potassium thus helps in maintaining normal blood pressure and preventing heart disease.
- As it is low in carbohydrates, it does not raise blood sugar levels significantly and therefore reduces the risk of diabetes.
- Almond milk helps to maintain healthy bones because of its high calcium content. The magnesium enhances absorption of calcium and reduces risk of osteoporosis.
- The high vitamin E levels offer excellent antioxidant levels while vitamin A helps to maintain eye health.
Some Side Effects Of Almond Milk
Almond milk in large quantities can suppress the function of the thyroid gland and hence cause health problems for those having low thyroid function. Avoid almond milk if you have a thyroid problem.
For those without thyroid problems almond milk is safe.
Almond milk is not suitable for those with nut allergies.
Babies should not be given almond milk as studies reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition have demonstrated that it can lead to autoimmune thyroid disease in those fed almond milk. The goitrogenic chemicals that are naturally present in almond milk are too high for infants.
Moreover, almond milk is also nutritionally inadequate for growing babies.
Always prefer making your own almond milk as commercially made almond milk has less dietary fiber, higher calories and a lot of unwanted additives are used to thicken the almond milk and stabilize it; synthetic vitamins A and D are added to it, anti caking agent like calcium carbonate is added
For thickening, thickeners including carrageenan are added. Carrageenan is a food additive extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus and has no nutritive value. Rather some forms of it cause ulcers, stomach problems and gastrointestinal cancers. It is harmful to health and causes inflammations in the body. Chronic inflammation is the cause of diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and others.
Hence always make and consume homemade almond milk.
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The Nutritional Benefits Of Drinking Almond Milk
Raw Almond Milk in the Vitamix (no straining)
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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