Is almond milk any healthier than cow’s milk?

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Many people have switched over to almond milk, from regular cow’s milk, for a variety of reasons. In fact, sales of the non-dairy product are now more than $700 million a year. But do consumers really know the true nutritional value of these milk alternatives?

Calories and fat

According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, almond milk and other nut milks are made from ground nuts and water, and while they’re lower in calories than nonfat cow’s milk, they have the same amount of fat (about 2 grams per cup) as 1% milk.

Read more: 4 food safety mistakes you’re probably making at home

The fat found in nut milk is the healthier fat though — monounsaturated — while the fat in most cow’s milk is mostly saturated.

Nutritional value (or lack…)

CR says nut milks have plenty of calcium and vitamin D, because most of them are fortified, but they do fall short when compared to other nutritional benefits of cow’s milk (and even soy milk). Plus, almond milk actually lacks the most beneficial part of almonds — protein.

  • 1 cup of 1% cow’s milk: 8 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of hazelnut milk: 2 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of cashew/almond milk: Might contain 1 gram or less of protein
  • 1 cup of low-fat plain soy milk: 4 – 6 grams of protein 

Consumer Reports points out that another downside to nut milks is the added sugar — making unsweetened nut milks a healthier choice.

Read more: 8 so-called ‘health’ foods you may want to reconsider

Other things to know

Many almond milks also contain a chemical called Carrageenan that can disrupt your GI tract and cause other issues.

The amount of almonds in almond milk has also caused some concern recently

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The label on the Blue Diamond carton says ‘Made with real almonds,’ which is true, but the lawsuit was over the amount of almonds.

Food Navigator reported almonds account for only 2% of the product. The rest is mostly water, sugar sunflower lecithin and a thickener.

Some reports said the company wastes water growing the almonds in the first place, and the lawsuit claimed the company is also deceiving consumers.



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