4 Healthy Reasons to Give Almond Milk a Try
Trendy, sure, but this popular dairy-free milk substitute has plenty of health benefits that make it more than a passing fad.
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Thinking of switching from regular milk to nut milk? "It can be a good alternative for anyone who is allergic or sensitive to dairy, a good choice for anyone trying to cut back on calories, and a good option especially for my clients with prediabetes/diabetes as it is much lower in carbohydrates compared to cow’s milk and so has a lower impact on their blood sugar," says Vandana Sheth, RDN, certified diabetes educator, author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. It is low in protein, though, so you want to make sure you are getting protein from other foods, she adds. And read up on the 8 things that happen when you go dairy-free.
Almond milk can be figure friendly
If you're watching your weight, almond milk can be a healthy substitute for all dairy milk except skim. Ounce for ounce, almond milk (plain and unsweetened) has less fat and fewer calories than reduced-fat cow's milk. Read labels, though. "Sweetened and flavored varieties are not the same," warns Sheth. "They can range in calories and carbohydrates per cup from 1 gram of carbohydrates and 30 calories for unsweetened vanilla almond milk, to 16 grams of carbohydrates and 93 calories for the sweetened kind."
Almond milk can be good for your bones
Some brands of almond milk are fortified with calcium and can contain more of the element per serving than cow's milk. "Typically, enriched almond milk will provide between 45 to 50% daily value of calcium compared to about 30% from dairy milk," says Sheth. Read labels, and opt for the calcium-fortified kind, she advises.
Almond milk can be heart-healthy
Unless you drink skim, dairy milk often contains some saturated fat, which can be problematic for those at risk for heart disease. Almond milk has no saturated fat, which can help prevent high blood pressure and contribute to overall heart health. It also contains added vitamin E, which can contribute to overall heart health.
Almond milk can support your immune system
Almond milk is often fortified with vitamins A, D, and E at levels that are often higher than those found in dairy milk—and, some cow's milk does not contain added vitamin D at all. All of those can give your immune system a nice daily boost. Almond milk is also rich in added B vitamins and iron, which promotes muscle strength and healing. But it's always good to read labels so you know exactly what you're getting, says Sheth. Not all almond milk is fortified in ways that can strengthen your immune system.
- Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, FAND, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, and author ofMy Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Calcium."