Why Is Almond Milk Healthier Than Regular Milk?

Confused by the varieties of milk? You’re not by yourself, for sure. Almond milk has had a sharp increase in interest and demand over the past few years as interest in cow’s milk has fallen due to the rising popularity of plant-based diets. However, is almond milk really a wise choice? Which is the healthier option? Here is a comparison of the nutritional value of cow milk and almond milk.

What’s the difference between almond milk and cow milk?

Almond milk and cow milk are very different in nature, despite having a similar name. Almond milk is a substitute for milk that is manufactured by combining water and almonds, filtering the mixture to remove the solids, and then adding other ingredients to make it taste like cow’s milk. Almond milk is offered in unsweetened, sweetened, and flavored forms while cow’s milk is offered in a variety of formats including whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, skim milk, and lactose-free milk. Almond milk and other plant-based milks have just lately been introduced in Western culture as alternatives for people who cannot consume cow’s milk for health reasons and/or choose not to for personal reasons. Historically, cow’s milk and dairy products have been enjoyed across numerous cultures.

Almond Milk vs. Cow Milk Nutrition

In terms of nutrition, cow’s milk is an excellent source of protein, fats, and carbohydrates while almond milk is low in calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Here is a comparison of 1 cup each of cow milk and unsweetened almond milk. (1)(2)

  • CALORIES: A cup of unsweetened almond milk has 40 calories, compared to the 122 calories in a cup of 2% cow milk, making it the healthier choice. Due to the fact that almond milk is mostly composed of water and has nothing in the way of protein, carbs, or fat, it has fewer calories than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is also offered in 1% and 0% varieties, which are fewer in calories than 2% cow’s milk and have respective calorie counts of 102 and 83.
  • PROTEIN: Almond milk has extremely little protein compared to cow’s milk, which is a natural source of high-quality protein. 2% cow milk has 8.1 grams of protein per cup, compared to 1.0 grams of protein in unsweetened almond milk. Additionally, cow’s milk provides all nine essential amino acids. Around 80% of the protein in cow’s milk is casein protein, while the remaining 20% is whey protein. (3) It has been established that casein and whey protein both include bioactive peptides and offer a variety of health advantages, such as strengthening the immune system, improving mineral absorption, decreasing blood pressure, and developing and preserving muscular tissues. (4)(5)(6)
  • FAT: Almonds alone are a good source of healthful fat, but only a small portion of that fat is used in the production of beverages. A cup of unsweetened almond milk has 3.0 grams of fat in it, compared to 4.8 grams in a cup of 2% cow milk. Although some of the fat in almond milk originates from almonds, it also frequently has additional vegetable oils, which raise its fat level to varying degrees depending on the brand. Cow’s milk comes in a range of fat contents, such as 3.25%, 2%, 1%, and 0%, so the precise fat content will change depending on the format. About 65% of the fat in cow’s milk is saturated, 30% is monounsaturated, and 5% is polyunsaturated. (7)
  • CARBOHYDRATES: Cow’s milk is a naturally occurring supply of simple sugars, primarily lactose with traces of monosaccharides and oligosaccharides. (8) In comparison to unsweetened almond milk, which has 2.0 grams of carbs per cup, 2% cow milk has 12.3 grams of carbohydrates per cup.
  • FIBRE: Almond milk and cow milk aren’t really good sources of fiber. A cup of unsweetened almond milk has 1.0 grams of fiber, compared to 0.0 grams in a cup of 2% cow milk, although the amount of fiber in almond milk might vary from brand to brand.
  • SUGAR: Lactose, the main natural sugar found in cow’s milk, is a source of sugar. In comparison to unsweetened almond milk, which has 0.4 grams of sugar per cup, 2% cow milk has 12.3 grams of sugar per cup. While sweetened and flavored variants of almond milk frequently have higher levels of added sugar, unsweetened almond milk has relatively little natural sugar.
  • Cow’s milk is a great source of a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B12, B6, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and selenium are all present in significant amounts in a 1-cup serving of 2% milk. (2) Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are less abundant in 1% and 0% milk due to the loss of fat; these vitamins are frequently fortified. (9) On the other hand, almond milk mainly consists of water and has very little in the way of vitamins and minerals. The majority of almond milk brands are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A.

Ingredients

Cow’s milk is a pure food made up exclusively of milk. Cow’s milk does not contain any additional components in the form of additives or preservatives, despite the fact that certain milk kinds do. Contrarily, given that almonds do not naturally grow in a liquid form and must be produced, and given that almond milk has additives in the form of preservatives, emulsifiers, and stabilizers, almond milk is a type of minimally processed food. Although store-bought almond milk frequently contains additives like gellan gum, sunflower lecithin, locust bean gum, ascorbic acid, and/or natural flavor, homemade almond milk is made by soaking and blending almonds with water and then straining the mixture to remove the solids until only the liquid is left. (10)(11)(12)

Nutrients

One of the foods with the highest nutrients per serving is cow’s milk. It also provides a good supply of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in addition to having a balanced composition of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. On the other hand, because water is almond milk’s main component, it includes relatively little of every macronutrient, and the majority of its reinforced micronutrients.

Allergies and Intolerances

2-3% of American children under the age of five are allergic to dairy milk, making cow’s milk one of the main causes of allergic food reactions in kids. 13) As a result, non-dairy beverages like almond milk have replaced traditional dairy goods including milk, yogurt, and cheese. Other people experience lactose intolerance, a body reaction to the natural sugar (lactose) found in milk as a result of a lack of the enzyme lactase required to breakdown lactose, which does not involve the immune system. While some people have a milk allergy, a reaction of the body’s immune system to the proteins found in dairy that causes a variety of symptoms, this condition does not affect all people equally. (14) Lactose-free cow’s milk and dairy products are commonly accessible for persons who are lactose intolerant. Cow’s milk might be a preferable choice for people who are allergic to tree nuts or almonds.

Calories and Weight Loss

Almond milk has fewer calories than cow’s milk, which is a rich source of naturally occurring carbohydrates, good fats, and protein, because it is mostly composed of water. Almond milk may be a lower-calorie alternative to cow’s milk for those who are concerned about losing weight or cutting calories. Alternatively, dairy products like 0% or 1% cow’s milk can also improve calorie reduction. So long as overall calorie intake is kept under control and their consumption contributes to a calorie deficit, whole milk and 2% milk can support a goal of weight loss. (15) Cow’s milk, especially the higher fat varieties, may be a more effective strategy to increase calorie consumption for those seeking to gain weight.

Overall, depending on the person, their diet, health objectives, nutritional demands, and personal preferences, cow milk and almond milk both offer advantages and disadvantages.

So, almond milk vs. cow milk: which one is healthier?

Cow’s milk is one of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods and one of the first superfoods. Cow milk is a remarkably healthy option because it contains over 15 important elements and a natural balance of carbohydrates, protein, and lipids. Almond milk is a good plant-based substitute for people who cannot or do not want to consume cow’s milk. Almond milk contains less protein, fat, carbs, and micronutrients than cow’s milk, mostly because water is its main component.

The Bottom Line

Cow’s milk and almond milk are fundamentally different foods, despite frequently being contrasted. While almond milk is a water-based and fortified substitute for individuals who cannot drink dairy products, cow’s milk provides a natural supply of carbs, protein, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. It is best to study the ingredients when choosing almond milk and choose varieties with little to no added sugar and natural components.

Almond milk: Is it better for you than ordinary milk?

One advantage of almond milk is that you’re getting your fats from a better source because studies have linked heart disease to consumption of saturated fat. Additionally, it includes more potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium and has a stronger nutrient profile.

Is almond milk healthier than regular milk?

Although enhanced goods are close to being as nutrient-dense as cow’s milk, almond milk is not even close.

They typically have extra calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which makes them more nutritionally comparable to ordinary milk.

Almond milk is naturally abundant in a number of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.

The table below compares the amounts of several nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in a cup of low-fat cow’s milk versus commercially fortified almond milk, as well as some daily values (DV) (2, 3).

Some minerals in almond milk are not as well absorbed by the body as those in milk. This is partially due to the antinutrient phytic acid found in almonds, which inhibits the absorption of iron, zinc, and magnesium (4, 5, 6).

Almond milk is not a viable milk substitute for infants because it is deficient in several nutrients.

Conclusion: Almond milk naturally contains high levels of various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.

It is low in calories

Commercial almond milk is a low-calorie beverage, despite the fact that almonds are heavy in calories and 50% fat (1, 2).

This implies that consuming large amounts of it won’t result in weight gain. In relation to its calorie level, it is also rich in several nutrients.

Almond milk is diluted with water by its manufacturers to make its 1% fat level more comparable to that of low-fat milk.

A cup of almond milk has only 39 calories, which is less than half of what a cup of skim milk has in terms of calories.

But not all almond milk is created equal. Depending on how many almonds are in each cup, homemade almond milk and some brands may have substantially higher calorie counts.

Additionally, for the greatest health benefits, consumers should avoid goods that have added sugar.

Conclusion: A glass of almond milk produced in a factory might have even less calories than skim milk. Check the nutrient labels though, as this might not be true for all products.

Unsweetened almond milk doesn’t raise blood sugar

Contrarily, sugar-free almond milk is a low-carb beverage with less than 2%, or 3.43 g, of carbohydrates per cup (2).

Why should you choose almond milk over regular milk?

Magnesium is abundant in almond milk. One of the four minerals found in your body most frequently is this one. It is a crucial component of over 300 significant enzyme processes. Magnesium is particularly crucial for managing blood sugar levels and the body’s use of energy.

Since almond milk is not an animal product, it does not contain lactose. It is therefore the ideal replacement for those who are lactose intolerant. Any recipe that asks for animal milk can be substituted with almond milk.

Unsweetened almond milk has fewer sugars and carbs than animal milk. It is just as flavorful as dairy milk but has 50% to 80% fewer calories. This makes it a food with a low glycemic index. Almond milk has a lower risk of elevating blood sugar levels as a result.

The majority of commercial almond milk brands are calcium-fortified. Calcium is closely linked to bone health because it makes up the majority of the bone’s hard tissues. Getting adequate calcium can aid your body’s battle against osteoporosis and keep your bones strong.

Almond milk is a great source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to benefit the brain. Studies have linked adequate vitamin E intake to a decreased risk of cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. In severe situations, it has also been demonstrated to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Antioxidants are crucial for minimizing the harm caused by free radicals. These molecules have the potential to harm nearby cells, which can result in everything from cancer to signs of aging. The minerals and antioxidants in almond milk can improve how well your body combats free radicals.

Is almond milk really good for you?

Almond milk has many nutritional advantages over conventional cow’s milk, making it significantly healthier overall.

Currently, one of the most well-liked and accessible plant-based milks is almond milk (vegan). It is wholesome, nutritious, and rich in minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Additionally, it has zero cholesterol and extremely little sugar and calorie content.

The common consensus is that almond milk is healthier than cow’s milk. While both contain a variety of nutrients and vitamins, the main difference between the two is that almond milk has fewer calories than regular dairy milk.

Why is almond milk healthy?

Almond milk has several health advantages, including:

  • Almond milk is lactose-free, which makes it especially appealing to those who are lactose intolerant. As a result, those looking for lactose-free beverage options will find that this plant-based milk is a great choice.
  • Low calorie content: Despite almonds having a high calorie content, almond milk only has 30 to 35 calories per 240 mL due to the method of production, compared to dairy milk’s 150 calories.
  • Low sugar content: Using almond milk instead of dairy milk reduces calorie intake and speeds up weight loss because it contains just two to three grams of sugar per cup.
  • Almond milk is entirely plant-based, which is the main factor in its popularity. Almond milk is suitable for vegans because it is comprised of plants.
  • Almond milk is rich in vitamin E, which is essential for a number of biological processes. Even though almonds are a good source of vitamin E, some producers add more to the milk.