Is almond milk healthier or better tasting than cow’s milk? Here is what Consumer Report says, but you may find my own experience more illuminating…
For better or worse, I consume a large quantity of milk; a gallon of skim or 1% every week since early youth. I grew up in an era when kids were urged to drink 4 glasses each day. Breakfast cereals and oatmeal demand milk and ice cream was everyone’s favorite treat. But now, I am more health & environmentally conscious. I have finally begun to explore alternatives.
I can’t speak with authority on which is healthier—milk or a milk alternative. But, in just the past 24 hours, I certainly have formed an opinion about fat, carbs, taste, texture, sustainability, animal cruelty, shelf life and just about anything else you might ask.
Take your pick: Fat, carbs, sustainability, fear of growth hormones and antibiotics—and for some consumers: a sensitivity to naturally occurring lactose or casein.
Why Not Soy Milk?
Soy is the #1 milk Alternative. But you won’t find me singing its praises. So, let’s get this one little detail off the table from the get go: Soy is banned from this analysis based solely on taste. For me, taste disqualifies it as a milk substitute. I never thought that soy milk tasted right—either straight up, in coffee or on cereal. It just seems a bit off.
What About Almonds?
I have no idea why I waited a lifetime to try almond milk, especially considering that milk is my comfort food and I love snacking on almonds.
I just bought my very first: a 96 oz plastic container of Silk brand, unsweetened almond milk, and I am totally floored. Wow—It is fantastic! Smooth, seductively aromatic and quite sweet (even though it is unsweetened, with only 30 calories per cup). It goes perfectly with breakfast cereal, both hot or cold. (N.B. I have not tried it in coffee, because I drink it black).
Appearance / Taste:
To my palate, Silk unsweetened almond milk tastes surprisingly close to 1% or 2% dairy milk. Any almond milk has a slight nut taste and a warm color (light tan instead of bright white).
Why did I wait decades to try almond milk? I have no idea. I will try making it at home, but—for me—stabilizers, calcium, vitamins, and preservatives are not important issues. My hot buttons, are taste, texture, carbs, fat content, animal cruelty and sustainability.
Protein, Vitamins & Calcium
Dairy and Soy have protein, but almond milk does not. Getting enough protein is not an issue for me. I eat plenty of meat, fish and peanut butter. On the other hand, store bought milk is an important source of calcium and vitamins. The two national brands of almond milk, Silk and Almond Breeze, are fortified with Vitamin A, D & E. They have 50% more calcium than cow’s milk.
For me, this is the big kahuna. Until recently, I was borderline diabetic. My doctor demanded that I lose weight, exercise and cut way back on carbs. I listened, and my health is much better for heeding his advice. If I hadn’t, I would be pricking my finger and shooting insulin. More importantly, I would prefer to keep my eyesight and toes.
A cup of 1% dairy milk has 12.2g of carbs; most of it from lactose, a form of sugar. Lactose-free milk has about the same carbs, because the dairy replaces lactose with another sugar. Silk unsweetened almond milk tastes great. I don’t find it lacking in flavor or sweetness. Yet, it has only 1g of carbs; 92% less than dairy milk. [continued]…
Cost, Shelf Life
I am slightly concerned about cost and shelf life. Compared with the house brand of dairy milk, Silk brand almost milk is about twice the cost. According to the label, it remains fresh for 7~10 days, while store bought dairy milk typically has an expiration of 10~12 days. Since almond milk comes in a slightly smaller container (96 -vs- 128 oz), hopefully, that this won’t be a problem.
I am hooked, even before comparing brands or testing recipes at home, I prefer almond from the very first taste. After consuming 2,600 gallons of cow’s milk (52 gal/yr * years since childhood), I am convinced that almonds beat cows hands down.
But, you may not share my priorities. You might react to lactose or casein or you might not like a slight nut flavor. You might want a natural source of protein or feel that almonds don’t do justice to morning coffee. Check out the comparison below and then try almond milk for yourself. Let me know what you think!
|Spectacular—better than milk
About 2x the cost of milk
Produced with no heat and little energy/resources
Once opened, it is 30% less than milk
30 calories and 2.5 grams (not saturated)
1g (no sugars!) -vs- 12.2g in cow’s milk
Several acquaintances have asked if I accepted cash or consideration for expressing this positive opinion about almond milk and Silk brand in particular. Not at all. My opinion and decision to publish is personal and extemporaneous. I have no commercial ties, referral fee, free samples or any consideration. I have no contacts with any vendor or food purveyor.