The dairy-alternatives market has seen rapid growth in the last few years thought to be related to perceived health benefits as well as increased marketing activity and improved availability of dairy-alternatives. This rapid growth has also seen almond milk claim the top spot as the #1 dairy alternative, taking reign from its predecessor soy, which has seen a decline in popularity with increasing concerns and controversies regarding its perceived ability to interfere with female hormones.
So how does almond milk stack up as an alternative to dairy milk?
First and foremost, like many things, not all almond milk brands are created equal so it is really up to the consumer to be proactive in reading labels and knowing what they are putting into their bodies. On the whole, almond milk has a good consistency and flavor which works well as a substitute to dairy in your tea/coffee, cooking & baking and over your cereal in the morning. It also does not come with the health concerns associated with soy milk and contains a number of beneficial nutrients and minerals. Plus it is a source of good fats, is low in carbohydrates and contains the antioxidant, vitamin E which helps protect skin.
When compared to dairy milk, the major downfalls of almond milk are the levels of calcium and protein. Your average store bought almond milk contains 1.5g protein per serve compared to approximately 7g in a serve of dairy. Protein content however is directly proportional to the percentage of almonds in the almond milk. Standard store bought packages contain 2-3% almonds. However, if you opt for the more premium varieties (such as Luz Almond) which contain upwards of 10% almonds, protein content per serve is around the 4.3g per serve. While it is still not on par with dairy milk, in Western countries the general population has very little problem meeting their protein requirements. Therefore unless there are particular circumstances in which someone is not meeting their protein requirements (malnutrition, athlete, cancer patient), the lower protein content should not be of considerable concern (this is general information, always seek medical advice before making significant changes).
Calcium on the other hand needs to always be considered, as inadequate dietary calcium will result in the bones leaching out their calcium stores in order to maintain adequate serum calcium levels, consequently resulting in a decrease in bone density and ultimately leading to osteoporosis, a condition whereby bones become brittle and frail. Many store bought varieties of almond milk are in fact fortified with calcium to a level which is on par with that of dairy, however fresh, premium varieties pride themselves on having no additives and often will not have added calcium. If you do not consume any other significant dairy sources you should discuss with your doctor or dietitian a means of substituting calcium in your diet to prevent the development of osteoporosis.
Obviously there are a number of reasons why people choose to avoid dairy, whether it be intolerances/allergies, religious reasons, moral reasons, taste or simple preference however fortunately today there is a number of options and variety when it comes to the dairy-alternative sector. Almond milk’s nutritional profile, consistency and taste make it a great option for those seeking an alternative to dairy. As always remember to read the labels and opt for options which have 10% plus almonds and don’t contain sugar and other additives, to ensure you are giving your body the best nutritional alternative!
If you’d like to stock our almond milk, feel free to contact us.