Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy milk in recent years, touted for its low calorie and fat content. But does it really offer the same nutritional benefits as eating actual almonds?
Many people assume that drinking almond milk is equivalent to consuming a serving of nuts, but the truth is more complicated. In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional value of almond milk and whether it can truly be considered a serving of nuts.
Let’s dive in!
Does Almond Milk Count As A Serving Of Nuts?
To answer the question simply, no, almond milk does not count as a serving of nuts. While almond milk is made from almonds, the process of making the milk removes many of the beneficial nutrients found in whole almonds, including protein.
When almonds are soaked in water and blended to create almond milk, the solid particles are removed, leaving behind a liquid that is low in calories and fat. While almond milk does contain heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, it lacks the protein and fiber found in whole almonds.
In fact, a typical serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, while a serving of almond milk contains only 1 gram of protein. This means that drinking almond milk alone cannot provide the same nutritional benefits as eating whole almonds.
What Is Almond Milk?
Almond milk is a popular dairy milk alternative that is made by blending soaked almonds with water to create a liquid that has a consistency similar to dairy milk. While the process of making almond milk removes many of the beneficial nutrients found in whole almonds, it does provide a low-calorie and low-fat option for those looking to avoid dairy milk.
Store-bought almond milk typically contains water, almonds, salt, added vitamins and minerals, and stabilizers and preservatives to improve its shelf life. Sweetened varieties also contain sugar or another type of sweetener.
Despite its popularity as a dairy milk alternative, almond milk is lacking in certain nutrients that are found in whole almonds. For example, a serving of almonds contains 14 grams of total fat and 6 grams of protein, while a serving of almond milk contains only 2.5 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.
While drinking almond milk does share some of the healthy properties of eating almonds, it is not quite the same as consuming the actual nuts. Almond milk can be a good choice for adults who are eating a diet with adequate protein and other nutrients, but it should not be relied upon as a sole source of nutrition.
Nutritional Value Of Almond Milk
Despite not being a substitute for whole almonds, almond milk still has some nutritional value. An 8-ounce serving of unsweetened almond milk contains only 40 calories, making it a low-calorie alternative to cow’s milk and other plant-based beverages. It also contains 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of fat, which are primarily healthy fats.
Almond milk is also an excellent source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radical damage. Additionally, some brands fortify their almond milk with calcium and vitamin D, which are important nutrients for bone health. However, homemade versions of almond milk do not contain these added nutrients.
It is important to note that sweetened varieties of almond milk contain added sugar or other sweeteners, which can negate some of the health benefits. To get the most nutritional value from almond milk, it is best to choose unsweetened varieties that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Comparison Of Almond Milk To Whole Almonds
When comparing almond milk to whole almonds, there are several notable differences in their nutritional content. While almond milk is lower in calories and fat than whole almonds, it is also lower in protein and fiber.
For example, 100 grams of almonds contain 579 calories, while the same amount of almond milk contains only 15 calories. However, almonds are a good source of protein, with 14 grams of protein per 100 grams, while almond milk contains only 0.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.
In terms of macronutrient ratios, almond milk has a ratio of 10:34:56 for protein, carbohydrates, and fat from calories, while almonds have a ratio of 14:14:73 for the same macronutrients. This means that while almond milk is lighter in protein and heavier in carbohydrates compared to whole almonds per calorie, it is also lighter in fat.
Another difference between almond milk and whole almonds is their calcium content. Dairy products are known for being rich sources of calcium, while almonds are a poor source of this nutrient. To make up for this, producers often enrich almond milk with calcium, making it an excellent source of this nutrient for people who don’t consume dairy products.
Other Nut Milk Alternatives
If you’re looking for other nut milk alternatives, there are several options available on the market. One of the newest nut-based milks is made from peanuts and is labeled as “milked peanuts.” This beverage boasts a creamy consistency without added thickeners and stabilizers, thanks to its minimal processing. However, it’s important to note that this milk is not suitable for those with peanut allergies.
Cashew milk is another popular alternative that is rich and creamy, with a slightly sweet taste. It’s also a good source of healthy fats and vitamins, including vitamin E and magnesium. Cashew milk can be used in recipes that call for dairy milk, and it can also be enjoyed on its own.
Hazelnut milk is another delicious option that has a rich, nutty flavor. It’s also a good source of healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium. Hazelnut milk can be used in baked goods or enjoyed as a beverage.
Finally, macadamia nut milk is a creamy and decadent option that is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium. Macadamia nut milk can be used in coffee or tea, or enjoyed on its own as a refreshing beverage.
Conclusion: Incorporating Nuts Into Your Diet
Despite almond milk not counting as a serving of nuts, incorporating nuts into your diet can have numerous health benefits. Nuts are nutrient-rich foods that contain complex matrices of unsaturated fatty and bioactive compounds, high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds. These unique compositions make nuts likely to have a beneficial impact on overall health.
Epidemiologic studies have associated nut consumption with a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, gallstones, and diabetes. Limited evidence also suggests beneficial effects on hypertension, cancer, and inflammation. Interventional studies consistently show that nut intake has a cholesterol-lowering effect, even in the context of healthy diets. There is also emerging evidence of beneficial effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular reactivity. Blood pressure, visceral adiposity and the metabolic syndrome also appear to be positively influenced by nut consumption.
Contrary to expectations, regular nut consumption is unlikely to contribute to obesity and may even help in weight loss. Nuts contain healthy fats that are not fully absorbed by the body, regulate food intake and help burn energy. One serving of almonds provides about 165 calories, 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat (80% monounsaturated, 15% polyunsaturated, and 5% saturated), 6 grams carbohydrate, and 3 grams fiber.
Incorporating nuts into your diet can be easy and delicious. One way is to snack on a handful of nuts as a mid-day snack or add them to your meals as a topping or ingredient. Nuts can be added to salads, oatmeal or smoothies for an extra boost of nutrition.