The Truth About Almond Milk
I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about almond milk lately. So many, in fact, that I decided to conduct my own online investigation. I’m sharing what I discovered here to help you know the real truth about almond milk.
First, a small vent. At some point, the U.S.A. went horribly wrong with food. My guess is that it’s an awful side effect of our capitalistic system. Making the biggest profit is more important than what’s best. It’s seriously distressing to me, especially because I often feel totally overwhelmed. There is so much information and trying to figure out what is on point and what is blatantly wrong is difficult. But, I’m determined to do right by my and my kids’ bodies and I refuse to give up. All I can do is tackle things one by one.
So, let’s tackle almond milk.
The Health Benefits of Almond Milk
The general nutritional consensus is that all of us should minimize dairy in our diets. Almond milk is a worthy alternative. Not only does it taste good, but it has B and E vitamins, protein, calcium, and fiber, and is low glycemic so it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes.
I’ve been hearing rumors that almond milk may not be so good for us – that it’s packed with sugar, potentially contains a couple bad ingredients, and barely has any almonds in it. This VERY disturbing since almond milk is my first non-dairy “milk” of choice!
Let’s tackle these rumors one at a time so you can be clear on the real truth about almond milk.
Which Almond Milk Has the Most Almonds?
Ummmm, shouldn’t there be a lot of actual almonds in “almond milk?” It’s so sad that we even have to question this. But, we do.
Two of the leading brands of almond milk—Blue Diamond and Silk—were the subject of class action lawsuits for misleading (no, deceiving) consumers. Why? Because their “almond milk” contains only 2% almonds. Wow.
So, what are their primary ingredients? Water, sugar, carrageenan, and lecithin. So, basically, other than water and the whopping 2% almonds, the ingredients in these almond milks are not healthy.
CONCLUSION: It’s pretty much impossible for a consumer to find out the percentage of actual almonds in most almond milks sold in the U.S. because the companies don’t list this information on the carton. What we do know is that Blue Diamond and Silk are among the worst in this respect. (But, read on.)
Sugar in Almond Milk
Original almond milk has about 7 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving. The vanilla version is somewhere in the vicinity of 15 grams and chocolate has a whopping 20 grams. Here’s some perspective – a serving of Coke has 26 grams and the recommended daily allowance of sugar for adults is 27-35 grams. Wow again.
CONCLUSION: Stick with UNsweetened regular or vanilla almond milk!
Bad Ingredients in Almond Milk
In addition to sugar, there is one main unsavory ingredient in many almond milks – carrageenan.
Carrageenan is a thickening agent derived from seaweed. Although it’s approved by the FDA, it’s been known to cause gastro-intestinal inflammation and possibly tumors, so much so that researchers at the University of Chicago have petitioned the FDA to rescind its approval and outlaw its use in food products. Carrageenan-free brands include Silk, Trader Joe’s, and New Barn Almond Milk.
CONCLUSION: Read the ingredients list before you buy any almond milk. Less is best and avoid any mystery ingredients, which are probably unhealthy thickeners or preservatives. Put any with carrageenan back on the shelf and choose non-GMO whenever possible.
Honestly, the very best almond milk is the almond milk you make yourself from – get ready for it – ALMONDS. When I have time, I will. Here’s the simplest recipe I could find—How to Make Your Own Almond Milk.
But, let’s be real…we don’t always have the time to make things from scratch and we have to grab something from a shelf or fridge.
I didn’t do an in depth scientific study, but I did some thorough reading. Based on my research, I’ll be buying New Barn Almond Milk whenever possible. It’s sold at Whole Foods and possibly at your local health food market. Again, go for unsweetened [regular or vanilla].
Second choices (in this order)—Silk or Trader Joe’s brand. Despite it’s 2% claim to infamy, Silk is carrageenan-free and non-GMO making it a worthy second choice.
So, now you have the truth about almond milk. We’ve done a lot of research over the years and have a ton of health and nutrition experience under our (much looser) belts after more than a decade in this business. We are happy to pass along helpful info like this to you—both on our blog and in one-on-one conversations. If you’d like to talk or ask a question, all you have to do is click.