Almond milk is a delicious and healthy alternative to dairy products. If you are lactose-intolerant, vegan, or are just looking for healthy drink choices, consider adding almond milk to your diet. Almond milk is created by grinding up almonds, soaking them in water (which may be sweetened) and then straining the mixture to remove the almond pulp. The result is a mild-flavored and smooth liquid that does not contain any cholesterol or lactose. Many people prefer the taste of almond milk to both cow’s milk and soy milk because the flavor is lighter and more refreshing.
Though you may think that almond milk is a relatively new product, it has actually been around for centuries. Records show that almond milk was a common drink in the middle ages, primarily because it does not spoil as quickly regular cow’s milk. Almonds can be kept for many months and were ground when needed to make almond milk. This drink provided excellent nutrition and was often used to supplement children’s diets and those who were sick or recovering from an illness. It is easily digested, and is well-tolerated by most people.
These days, we have adequate refrigeration and a wide variety of natural and organic drinks to choose from. So why consider adding almond milk to your diet? Well, it is extremely rich in both fiber and nutrients, and includes a wide variety of minerals such as calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and tryptophan. Almond milk is also packed with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which are well-known to be beneficial for both your heart and brain. These nutrients are also important for maintaining ideal blood pressure levels and assist with proper kidney functioning.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Almond Milk
Here are some other benefits of almond milk for you and your family.
1. Weight Loss
Almond milk has about fifty percent fewer calories than cow’s milk, making it a good choice for those who are watching their weight. A cup of whole milk has about 150 calories, and 1% milk has about 100 calories. A cup of almond milk only has 60 calories, without any saturated or trans fats or cholesterol. Almond milk can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in coffee, cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, and many other breakfast items, making it an excellent choice for both nutrition and weight management. Make sure to read the label, though, and stick to the unsweetened varieties of almond milk for weight loss.
2. Healthy Skin and Bones
Almond milk provides a significant amount of calcium, with 30% of the recommended daily amount in one serving. It also has 25% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D. These two nutrients are very important for children while they are growing, and equally important for middle-aged adults who may be starting to lose bone density. Adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D help reduce your arthritis and osteoporosis risk. Almond milk also contains a healthy dose of Vitamin E, with almost 50% of the recommended daily amount in each serving. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by oxidation and free radicals. This can help your skin stay young-looking by protecting it from sun damage, pollution and other toxins in the environment.
3. Low Glycemic Index
If you purchase unsweetened almond milk, you are assured of a product that is low in both sugars and carbs. Drinking a glass of almond milk helps keep your blood sugar levels constant, and won’t lead to a sugar ‘high’ that ultimately leaves you feeling exhausted two hours later. Almond milk has a low glycemic index and your body will convert the available carbs into energy, not into fat. Try drinking a cup of almond milk in the afternoon instead of a sugar-laden high-calorie soda. You will feel energized and ready to tackle your next project, whether it is a staff meeting or carpooling your kids to soccer practice.
4. Good Source of Riboflavin
Almond milk is a good source of riboflavin, also known at vitamin B2. B vitamins are extremely important for cell metabolism, and are essential for breaking down and processing the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in your diet. Riboflavin is also necessary for the production of red blood cells, and assists with healing from both wounds and over-exertion. However, your body is not able to store vitamin B2, so a large glass of almond milk each day will ensure you get enough of this important nutrient.
5. Lower Cholesterol
As mentioned previously, almond milk is a cholesterol-free food. But it is also loaded with monosaturated fats that are shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. Some studies show that eating almonds or drinking almond milk regularly can lead to a 10% reduction of LDL levels, while leaving the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) unchanged.
Nowadays, there are many varieties of almond milk available at your local grocery store, as well as health food stores. However, you may want to try making this drink at home. Here’s how you can make your own unsweetened almond milk:
- Soak 1 cup of almonds in fresh water for 12 hours.
- Drain the almonds and place in a blender.
- Add 3 cups of fresh filtered water.
- Blend on high for 60 seconds, wait 10 seconds and then blend again for 60 seconds.
- Some people enjoy drinking this mixture, since it has the most fiber and nutrients.
- However, for a smoother drink, strain the almond mixture through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Drink immediately or store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
If you’d like to sweeten your almond milk, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract, along with 2 tablespoons of agave nectar.
You can also experiment with other flavors by adding cocoa powder, cinnamon, fresh strawberries or other fruits to the blender. For an instant smoothie, put half of a frozen banana and one cup of almond milk in the blender for a delicious cold treat. You can also throw in a few tablespoons of chia seeds. Use your imagination, and enjoy the health benefits of almond milk all year long.