If you saw my recent post about the best plant-based milk alternatives you may have noted that wildly popular almond milk did not make the cut. That’s because the health benefits of almond milk are practically non-existent unless you are buying “whole” almond milk. Most almond milk brands are NOT made from “whole” almonds, but rather have been highly strained with sugars and other additives mixed in. (Clean store-bought “whole” almond milk brands DO exist though! See my three favorites at the bottom of this blog.)
I know almond milk is all the rage these days with clean eating enthusiasts, but the truth is if it is a highly strained almond milk that also has tablespoonfuls of sugar added to it, then it’s not really offering much in the way of nutrition.
I don’t want to bash name brands, but if you have been disappointed by the wateriness of the various almond milk brands you have tried, then that’s surely because they are not “whole” almond milk. It’s kind of like the difference between drinking whole milk and skim milk.
Considering that cow’s milk does not do a body good, if push came to shove I would have to choose store-bought watery almond milk over skim milk but that’s not because of the health benefits of almond milk. I would only choose highly strained store-bought almond milk over skim milk because at least the almond milk does not come packaged with all of the negatives associated with cow’s milk. But the point is, watery almond milk is not a nutrient-dense beverage.
The problem with commercially produced almond milk is that the vast majority of brands contain less than 5 per cent almonds, the rest of the “milk” consists of water with some emulsifiers and added synthetic nutrients.
Here is the ingredients listed for a popular almond milk brand below:
Almond milk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum,
Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2.
This particular almond milk brand advertises that their product contains 50% more calcium than cow’s milk and that it is an excellent source of vitamin E. However, this type of marketing is deceiving to the consumer considering that this brand of almond milk does not naturally contain significant amounts of calcium or vitamin E; instead the almond milk has been artificially fortified with these synthetic nutrients.
What companies are doing to almond milk today is basically the same thing they did to flour years ago. Basically, they are processing a food and removing all of the good nutrition and then “fortifying” the food with synthetic nutrients. The health benefits of commercial almond milk are practically non-existent for the same reason that enriched white flour is also not healthy. If you have our Clean Cuisine book then you know we are against fortifying foods with synthetic nutrients. Your body will never be able to utilize a synthetic nutrient the same way it can utilize nutrients from whole foods.
Health Benefits of Almond Milk When You Make It Yourself
As down as I am on most commercial almond milk, homemade almond milk done right is a completely different story.
If you Google “How to Make Homemade Almond Milk” you’ll see a number of different recipes pop up. The problem is almost every single homemade almond milk recipe requires a lengthy process of soaking the almonds overnight (or for up to 2 days), then using a high speed blender to process the almonds with water and finally straining the almond meal with a cheesecloth. The straining is the part I have a problem with. Straining the almond meal removes all of the nutrients! It is true that homemade strained almond milk does not have synthetic nutrients added and often contains less sugar than commercial versions, but that doesn’t make it a super nutritious milk alternative. It also doesn’t make it a rich and creamy alternative either. In other words, strained homemade almond milk is still going to have the consistency of skim milk. Not good.
There is a better, easier way…
The Health Benefits of “Whole” Almond Milk
I have found the simplest, tastiest and most nutritious way to make homemade almond milk is to simply use raw almond butter. Of course you could always use whole almonds instead of almond butter, but you would definitely need to soak the almonds first. I have found using raw almond butter to be much easier and surprisingly tastier too.
Raw almond butter is made with “whole” almonds, so it is a “whole” food. You get all of the incredible health benefits of almonds from “whole” almond milk made with raw almond butter. You get a significant source of REAL antioxidant vitamin E, REAL calcium, trace minerals, plant-protein and so much more.
The far-reaching benefits of whole almond milk verse conventional almond milk can be compared with the benefits of “whole” juice. The only juice we drink in our house is “whole” juice made from the “whole” fruit; conventional juice is just a processed food with the anti-inflammatory fiber removed. Once you remove the fiber from the fruit the sugar that is left behind is rapidly absorbed and can elevate insulin levels, promote inflammation, promote fat storage, etc. When you remove the pulp from “whole” almonds to make almond milk you are, in essence, turning almonds into a refined food to drink. Not nutritious.
There is simply no way around it, almond milk that is strained is just not as nutritious as “whole” almond milk.
The downside to “whole” almond milk? You will definitely need to shake it well just before using it, otherwise all of the stuff that is normally strained out when making conventional almond milk will all sink to the bottom. I like to store my almond milk in these mason jars because it makes them easy to shake. It keeps for about 3 days in the fridge, although our 15 year old son usually drinks it in one day 😉
3 CLEAN “Whole” Almond Milk Brands
And finally, store-bought clean “whole” almond milk does now exist! Here are my three favorite brands:Print
The most nutritious, delicious and best homemade almond milk recipe is also incredibly easy to make using raw almond butter rather than whole raw almonds.
- 1/2 cup raw almond butter
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Pinch of unrefined sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed for 1 full minute. Transfer to a glass container and refrigerate until serving time. Shake well before serving.
P.S. WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO EAT CLEAN?
Did you know our Clean Cuisine book includes an 8-week anti-inflammatory lifestyle plan along with 100 all new recipes not featured on the blog?