Are you a fan of almond milk?
It’s a popular dairy-free alternative that’s often used in smoothies, coffee, and baking.
But have you ever wondered if it contains lectins?
Lectins are sugar-binding proteins found in many healthy foods, including grains and legumes. Some people are sensitive to lectins and may experience digestive issues or inflammation.
In this article, we’ll explore whether or not almond milk contains lectins and what you need to know about this popular non-dairy milk.
So, let’s dive in and learn more about the relationship between almond milk and lectins.
Does Almond Milk Have Lectins?
The short answer is yes, almond milk does contain lectins if it’s made with whole almonds. Commercially, almond milk is made by blending whole almonds and then straining the mixture to remove the skins. This process results in silky, white almond milk that is often used as a dairy-free alternative.
However, during the blending process, lectins can leach into the water, which means that almond milk made with whole almonds is not completely lectin-free. While some of the lectins are removed during the straining process, some still remain in the almond milk.
It’s important to note that almonds are generally considered a safe option in a lectin-free diet, and therefore almond milk is also considered safe. Additionally, almond milk does not contain dairy proteins that some people may have reactions to, making it a popular choice for those with dietary restrictions.
What Are Lectins And Why Are They A Concern?
Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that are found in many foods, including grains, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables. They are a concern for some people because they can cause digestive issues, inflammation, and other adverse symptoms. While not all people are sensitive to lectins, those who are may experience discomfort when consuming foods that contain them.
Cardiologist Steven Gundry, MD, introduced the lectin-free diet in his popular 2017 book “The Plant Paradox.” He and other proponents of the diet believe that eating lectins can lead to weight gain, brain fog, chronic inflammation, poor digestion from a disrupted microbiome, and other adverse symptoms.
It’s important to note that eliminating lectins from your diet is not necessary for everyone. Many health professionals have expressed concern that eliminating such a large swath of foods could mean you’ll miss out on valuable nutrients. Additionally, the harmful effects of lectins have yet to be proven definitively.
The Nutritional Profile Of Almond Milk
Almond milk is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, and low-protein alternative to dairy milk. One cup of unsweetened almond milk contains only 30-40 calories, 1-2 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein. This makes it a popular choice for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Almond milk is also rich in vitamins and minerals. One cup of unsweetened almond milk typically contains 25-50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It also contains calcium, which is important for healthy bones and teeth, and vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
However, it’s important to note that almond milk is not a significant source of protein. While dairy milk typically contains 8 grams of protein per cup, almond milk only contains 1 gram. This means that those who rely on almond milk as their primary source of protein may need to supplement their diet with other protein-rich foods.
Another consideration is the omega-6 content of almond milk. Almonds are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can be inflammatory when consumed in excess. While almond milk does not contain as much omega-6 as whole almonds, it still contains some. Those who are concerned about their omega-6 intake may want to limit their consumption of almond milk or choose an alternative non-dairy milk with lower omega-6 content.
Do Almonds Contain Lectins?
Yes, almonds do contain lectins, but they are primarily found in the skin of the almonds. This means that if you remove the skin, you can significantly reduce the amount of lectins in almonds. Commercially, almonds are sold in various forms, including blanched almonds that have had their skins removed.
It’s important to note that while almonds do contain lectins, they are generally considered a safe option in a low-lectin diet. In fact, baked almonds are often recommended as a good food to include in a daily diet. However, as with all foods, it’s still important to limit intake and include plenty of other foods as well.
For those who are sensitive to lectins, it’s important to be cautious when consuming nuts that are actually legumes, such as peanuts and cashews. Most tree nuts, including walnuts and pecans, are generally accepted on a low-lectin diet, but certain individuals may be hypersensitive to some of these nuts.
Almonds, which are actually seeds, can be tricky to understand because they do contain lectins, but those lectins can be removed by removing the skin. It’s also possible to buy blanched almonds or blanch your own raw almonds by dropping them into boiling water for a minute and then popping the skins off. Blanched almonds are sweeter and creamier in flavor than regular almonds due to the added step of boiling and dehydrating them.
The Process Of Making Almond Milk
Making almond milk at home is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients and tools. The first step is to soak whole almonds in filtered water overnight. This helps to activate the live enzymes in the nuts, making them easier to digest, and also removes harmful lectins and phytic acid that bind to essential nutrients in the body.
After soaking, the almonds are rinsed well and blended with filtered water until a smooth and creamy mixture is obtained. This mixture is then strained through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag to separate the solids from the liquid. The resulting almond milk can be consumed plain or further sweetened and flavored with natural ingredients like cinnamon or vanilla extract.
Commercially available almond milk is made using a similar process, but often includes additional ingredients like stabilizers or natural flavorings. It’s important to read the label carefully if you’re purchasing almond milk from the store to ensure that it meets your dietary needs and preferences.
Potential Risks And Benefits Of Consuming Lectins
While lectins are found in many plant-based foods, some people may experience digestive distress after consuming them. This is because the body cannot fully digest lectins, and they can bind to cell membranes in the digestive tract, potentially causing damage and disrupting metabolism. People with underlying digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may be more sensitive to lectins and may experience negative effects after consuming them.
However, lectins can also have potential health benefits. They can act as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals. They can also slow down digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates, which may prevent sharp rises in blood sugar and high insulin levels. Early research is also exploring the use of non-toxic low amounts of certain lectins to help stimulate gut cell growth in patients who are unable to eat for long periods, and in anticancer treatments due to their ability to cause cancer cell death.
In many large population studies, foods containing lectins like legumes, whole grains, and nuts are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, weight loss, and type 2 diabetes. These foods are also rich sources of B vitamins, protein, fiber, minerals, and healthy fats. Therefore, the health benefits of consuming these foods far outweigh the potential harm of lectins in these foods.
It’s important to note that soaking, cooking, sprouting, and fermenting plant-based foods can destroy most lectins. If you are trying a lectin-free diet for medical purposes, it’s important to consult with a registered dietitian to ensure that your eating plan meets your nutrient needs and goals.