Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Try Almond Milk, but Read the Label!
Almond milk is very trendy right now, and rightly so. It can be a very low-calorie and tasty way to get in your “dairy equivalents”, while also providing up to 50% your daily value of Vitamin E, which is a very important antioxidant.
However, you need to know that contrary to what is often misstated on TV shows, Almond Milk is very low in protein compared to cow or soy milks. An average cup of skim milk provides 80-90 calories and 8 grams of protein. An unsweetened soy milk usually provides about 90 calories and 7 grams of high quality protein. Almond milk, unsweetened, will only provide 30-40 calories per cup, and < 1 g of protein. Even the sweetened vanilla varieties of almond milk usually are comparable to skim in terms of calories, but do not offer the protein of soy or skim milk. Protein has 4 calories per gram, thus the reason almond milk is lower in calories than skim or soy milks.
You must also be cautious of reading the label. The reason I recommend almond milk is because it is a low-calorie way to get in a "dairy" food group serving as well as a way to get people to consume more Vitamin E without having to eat 500 calories worth of almonds. Certain shelf-stable almond milk brands provide no Vitamin E, and some are not fortified with calcium or Vitamin D. Most of the refrigerator varieties are fortified with calcium and have a decent amount of Vitamin E. However, So Delicious brand does not have the Vitamin E which is one of the outstanding benefits of Almond Milk (it also only has 10% the daily value of calcium compared to>30% in other brands). Also, be aware that almond milk does not heat well (it curdles when heated too high) and it does not freeze well like regular milk and soy milk do.
My Recommendation: Pair unsweetened almond milks with high protein cereals like Kashi Go Lean, or use when making smoothies (I recommend the Almond Coconut Blend!). Always look at the nutrition label and make sure you are getting at least 30%the DV of Calcium, 50% DV Vitamin E, and 25% the daily value of Vitamin D. Any “dairy” type product spoils in 7-10 days of opening, regardless of the use-by-date, and almond milk certainly takes on a funky taste after about a week of being opened. The refrigerator varieties generally taste better, but if you aren’t going to go through an entire half gallon in a week, I recommend getting the smaller shelf-stable varieties (refrigerate after opening!).