Editor’s Note: Since this article was published, the manufacturers of Almond Breeze have swapped out carageenan for gellan gum. A study in humans has shown it to be safe (similar to xantham gum) but another rat study shows signs of concern. While gellan gum is a better alternative to carageenan, we advise customers to continue to be cautious, and we always recommend making whole almond milk as the healthiest possible option.
They’re crunchy, sweet and nothing tastes quite like them! Almonds are a fantastic source of nutrition with numerous health benefits.
Containing around 21 grams of protein and 8.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams (1), almonds are a great snack to keep you energized and full throughout the day. They can even lower your cholesterol and help improve circulation throughout the body!
However, there is a downside to the almond world. Many companies are now producing almond milk as “the increase in consumption of products in the last decades is related to consumers’ tendency to look for healthy foods” (2). However, what’s hidden inside this form of milk will shock you!
Almond milk contains many additives, but naturally, almond milk doesn’t contain sugar, yet most manufacturers add sugar to it during processing to improve the taste. It may taste delicious, but the added sugars will stack up against your daily allowance!
According to the American Heart Association, men should be consuming 37.5 grams of sugar (or less) a day and women should be having 25 grams (3). So it may be shocking to hear that standard almond milk contains 7 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving (4). That’s a third of your daily sugars, if you’re a woman, after just one serving! So you could be already a chunk of your way into your daily sugar allowance after your morning breakfast.
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Should It Be Called ‘Almond’ Milk
In the UK brand Alpro, researchers found that a whole carton contains only 2% almonds! It has been said that this percentage is not limited to UK products and is a standard for commercially produced almond milk (6). So you would have to drink the whole thing to reap the rewards of what a handful of almonds could do! But that would mean consuming copious amounts of additives and Carrageenan (thickening ingredient).
Contaminated by Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a thickening tool which is extracted from certain types of red seaweed (7). Although it is a natural substance, multiple health professionals have concluded that carrageenan can cause inflammation which can lead to heart disease (8). The US still pass the use of carrageenan in food products and not a major health concern.
Is All Store-bought Almond Milk Bad?
Yes, and no. Store-bought almond milk will never have as much nutrition or as many almonds as real, homemade almond milk.
However, if you do have to buy boxed, there are definitely some options that are better than others. The key is to be an informed shopper. Read the labels with caution! For example, a few brands which offer an “unsweetened” variety of almond milk actually do sweeten it with cane sugar or dried cane juice, which is still sugar.
Here’s how to buy it:
- avoid carrageenan
- avoid added sugar (including cane sugar)
- avoid “natural flavors” when possible
- buy 100% organic
- buy unsweetened
For example, Almond Breeze unsweetened almond milk doesn’t add sugar, but it does add carrageenan. So Delicious and Silk “Unsweetened” versions of almond milk have no carrageenan or sugar, but they do add “natural flavors”, which ends up being a better option than most. If you’re unable to find a brand in your local grocery store that is truly natural, the best option will always be to simply make your own almond milk at home.
Try our easy, homemade recipe that is all-natural and doesn’t contain any of the additives found in shop bought products.
Or watch the following video! It will give you a step by step guide on how to make the perfect tasting almond milk. Delicious!
(1)Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/2/7/652/pdf Published: June 24, 2010. Accessed: November 8, 2016.
(2)Quality Characteristics and Shelf-Life of Ultra-High Pressure Homogenized (UHPH) Almond Beverage http://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/4/2/159/pdf Published: May 20, 2015. Accessed: November 8, 2016.
(3)American Heart Association- Sugar 101.http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WCH1kaO-KfU Updated: October 11, 2016. Accessed: November 8, 2016.
(6)Why Almond Milk Is A Rip Off. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-almond-milk-is-basically-a-scam-2015-4 Published: April 17, 2015. Accessed: November 8, 2016.
(7)Carrageenan https://application.wiley-vch.de/books/biopoly/pdf_v06/bpol6009_245_250.pdf Published: N/A. Accessed: November 8, 2016.
(8)Is carrageenan Safe? http://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/food-safety/is-carrageenan-safe/ Published: November 1, 2016. Accessed: November 8, 2016.
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