Everyone knows that milk is good for you, whether you’re a kid or an adult. It makes your bones stronger and your body healthier. Unfortunately, not everyone can drink dairy milk. Some of us are allergic to it. Some of us are lactose intolerant or have milk protein intolerance. Because of this, replacements of dairy milk have come into existence. One of these is almond milk.
History of Almond Milk
Though almond milk has only become a popular milk alternative recently, most people don’t know that it has actually been around for centuries. During the middle ages, the Chinese preferred to create milk from nuts and legumes rather than consume dairy products which were constantly being introduced and reintroduced to them. In Europe, it was a popular alternative to cow’s milk since it could be stored longer (cow’s milk tended to spoil earlier especially since there were no refrigerators at the time) and it could be made whenever it is needed. Since almond milk is made out of nuts, Christians and Muslims during that time also used it during feasts or fast days that required them not to consume animal products, such as Lent.
Almond milk is a highly popular alternative to dairy milk since it is rich in nutrients. Just like cow’s milk, almond milk is rich in calcium; a cup (8 oz.) contains about 300mg which meets 30% the Recommended Daily Value for calcium. This milk is also vitamin-rich. The amount of vitamin A it contains meets 50% of the Recommended Daily Value. It also is rich with vitamins D and E. Aside from vitamins, almond milk is full of minerals such as manganese, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Protein is also a nutritional content of almond milk though it is only about 1 to 2 grams in each cup. The good news is that, though it is low on protein, it also is low on carbohydrates and fats. One cup contains 2.5g of fat and 8g of carbohydrates. Even better, it only contains unsaturated fats (including Omega 3 fatty acids) which are good for the body. It has zero saturated fats unlike dairy milk. As for calories, each cup of almond milk has about 40-60 calories which is a great deal lesser than that found in skim milk.
There are a great many benefits to be had from drinking almond milk. One big factor in its popularity among the public is its taste. Not everyone likes the taste of cow’s milk. Some think it tastes too plain while others think it’s too creamy or thick. Almond milk’s taste, on the other hand, is quite different. It has a crisp, clean flavor with a nutty texture. It mixes well with coffee and tea and adds quite a nice flavor to dishes and baked goods.
Because almond milk is low in calories and fats, it’s a great alternative to dairy milk for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain it. Another healthy benefit to drinking almond milk is that it ensures that your heart stays healthy. Cholesterol and saturated fats are found in cow’s milk and these can be unhealthy to your cardiovascular system. Almond milk has none of these. Instead, it contains Omega 3 fatty acids which helps lower the bad cholesterol that you do have which protects your heart from damage.
For diabetics or those who want to lower/maintain their sugar levels, almond milk is a better alternative as well. It actually has a low amount of sugars, only 7 grams per serving. These sugars have a low glycemic nature which means that they are easily digested and turned into energy thus, they cannot be stored as fat.
Calcium and vitamin D can be found in almond milk which is great for good bone health. Both of these help build stronger bones not only in children but in adults as well. Magnesium, also found in almond milk, helps the body to absorb more calcium. In addition, vitamin D increases the body’s immunity and cell function. In fact, some studies have shown that this vitamin helps decrease the risk of osteoporosis as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
Almond milk is also high in antioxidants particularly vitamin E. This slows down your body’s signs of aging by increasing the body’s immunity and protecting the tissues and cells from damage. It also prevents cancer. In addition, you also get a lot of vitamin A from almond milk which helps in your eyes’ ability to function properly – improves your eyes’ ability to adjust to changes in light. Flavonoids in the milk decrease the risk of developing a degenerative disease by helping lessen the number of free radicals in the body.
Though almond milk is low in protein, it doesn’t mean that it can’t help build your muscles. It contains riboflavin and iron which are muscle regulating nutrients, helping the muscles absorb and utilize protein for growth, repair, and energy.
Aside from all the health benefits, almond milk is an excellent alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or unable to consume soy products. It also does not contain any animal by-products thus it is perfect for vegans and vegetarians.
Making Almond Milk
Due to its current popularity, there are loads of almond milk brands available in your nearby grocery store or supermarket. Thus, anyone who has a hankering for almond milk can easily get it. But the real beauty of almond milk is that you can make it at home. It is actually quite simple and doesn’t require advanced skills in the kitchen. The basic ingredients that you’ll need are just almonds and water. You can opt to use sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and you can also choose to add flavors to spice it up like cinnamon or vanilla. As for equipment, you’ll need a cheese cloth, a strainer, a measuring cup, a big bowl/container, and a food processor or blender.
To make almond milk, you should start with soaking the almonds in water until they feel squishy and look plump and juicier. Drain the water from the almonds before placing them in a blender or food processor along with about 2 cups of water. Once the almonds have formed into a fine meal, you will need to filter the meal out using a cheese cloth so you can extract all of the milk then viola! You’ve got homemade almond milk that you can enjoy anytime!