Almond milk is a creamy, nutty-flavored beverage that has been consumed for hundreds of years. It has become a popular staple for those wishing to avoid dairy and is available at many grocery stores in a variety of flavors and brands. You can also easily make it at home by soaking, grinding and straining raw almonds.
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Compared to Cow's Milk
Almond milk is lower in both fat and calories than reduced-fat cow's milk. One cup of vanilla-flavored and sweetened almond milk contains about 90 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, compared to the 120 calories and 5 grams of fat in 1 cup of cow's milk. These numbers vary greatly by brand and type, as plain almond milk can be as low as 30 calories per serving. Additionally, because almond milk is not an animal product, it contains neither saturated fat nor cholesterol. Therefore, almond milk may be an appropriate milk substitute for those on a heart-healthy diet where saturated fat and cholesterol must be avoided. However, almond milk is higher in carbohydrates than cow's milk and only offers 1 gram of protein per cup compared to the 8 grams present in 1 cup of cow's milk.
Many almond milk products are supplemented with vitamins A, D and B-12, so they provide a significant percentage of your recommended dietary allowance for those nutrients. One cup of almond milk contains 500 IU of vitamin A, 100 IU of vitamin D and 3 micrograms of vitamin B-12, which fulfills 100 percent of your B-12 requirements and roughly 20 percent of your vitamin A and D recommendations for the day. Vitamins A and D are important for maintaining a healthy immune system, and B-12 is an essential nutrient for critical functions in the body such as blood cell formation and DNA synthesis.
Almond milk is rich in phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Additionally, many commercial almond milks are supplemented with enough calcium to meet one-third of the RDA. If you choose three servings per day of almond milk over the recommended three servings per day of dairy products, you can still meet your calcium requirements of 1,000 milligrams per day for men and 1,200 milligrams per day for women, which is important for optimal bone health.
Plain almond milk is commercially available if you prefer not to drink sweetened vanilla- or chocolate-flavored almond milk. The unsweetened types are even lower in calories than those containing added sugar. However, some plain almond milk products may not contain the added calcium and vitamins B-12, D and A. Read the product label to determine the best variety of almond milk to suit your personal preferences and dietary needs.