As of 2016, almond milk was the most popular milk of all milks in the United States. And even with all the newcomers — cashew milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, oat milk — we'd guess it's still the darling of the "mylks." But does it deserve its spotlight in the non-dairy section of your supermarket?
Here are a few things you should know about almond milk.
1. It's lactose-free.
Like all the other non-dairy milks, it's lactose-free. This is, for roughly 65 percent of the population who are lactose-intolerant, of utmost importance.
2. It's vegan.
Another plus for some: It's not an animal product. This also means it doesn't have any cholesterol.
3. It's low-calorie.
Compared to regular milk and even other non-dairy milks, it is relatively low-calorie, or it can be: A serving of unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk comes in at a cool 30 calories. (As a result, though, it sadly will not make your coffee creamy. It's always something.) Even the sweetened versions are comparatively light, though, at 60 calories a serving.
4. It may have additives.
Plant-based milks in particular can have a lot of additives, including carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed and is used as a stabilizer and thickener. There's been a lot of hoopla around this particular additive, which may (or may not) be potentially irritating. It is still an FDA-approved ingredient for organic products, but more and more brands are removing it from their formulations.
5. It's not as nutritious as you think.
The biggest drawback to almond milk, however, isn't about what's in it, but rather what isn't. While almonds themselves are a great source of protein and calcium, the New York Times has bad news about almond milk: "These nutrients are all but lost during the processing of these nut beverages, which contain a lot of water." (Then again, it's possible you're already getting plenty of protein from other sources and all the calcium you need from vegetables. Maybe it's fine! Still, it's worth noting.)
It's possible to buy a brand that compensates for some of that — since nut milks don't necessarily have all that much going on nutritionally, some manufacturers fortify them to boost the protein, calcium, and vitamin content. Again, though, scientists still aren't totally sure how well those added nutrients are absorbed.
Bottom line: Almond milk is neither the best nor the worst. Drink responsibly! And read your labels!
Do you drink almond milk? What's your favorite brand?
Related Video: How To Make Almond Milk