Almond milk is a nourishing, delicious, and incredibly popular plant-based milk available on the market.
One of the major benefits of almond milk is that it can meet the diet requirements of a variety of people. It’s vegan, dairy-free, low in calories, fat, and carbs and has an abundance of other nutrients to help support your health.
This article highlights some of the health benefits of almond milk as well as a few reasons you may want to skip this plant-based milk substitute.
1. Includes a Variety of Nutrients
“Since almond milk is often used as a dairy milk alternative, most brands will add vitamins and minerals that regular milk provides”, explains Kelsey Sackmann, MS, RD owner of Kelsey P. RD. She adds, “Fortified almond milk can be a great source of calcium, and vitamins A, E, and D”.
The nutrition content of one cup of unsweetened almond milk is:
Calories: 39 kcal
Protein: 1 gram
Fat: 2.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 3.4 grams
Vitamin D: 2.6 micrograms, 13% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin E: 16.6 milligrams (mg), 111% DV
Calcium: 482.1mg, 37% DV
Since some of these vitamins and minerals are added by the manufacturer and not naturally occurring, be sure to check the label as some brands won’t have these added.
If you make your own almond milk at home, you’ll be missing out on many of these nutrients.
2. A Weight Management Ally
If you’re looking to manage your weight, almond milk can be a great addition to your diet.
With only 39 calories per cup, you can easily add this beverage to your meal without adding a lot of extra calories. It’s also low in carbohydrates, which can be helpful in losing or maintaining weight.
While very-low-carb diets aren’t often sustainable for most people, replacing some carbohydrates with fat and protein may help, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Fat and protein help keep you satisfied and full longer, which could help you eat less overall. Almond milk is low in protein but provides 2.5 grams of healthy fats.
Pair a glass with a high-protein meal or mix it into a smoothie for the perfect weight-loss combo.
3. It Won’t Raise Your Blood Sugar
“Almond milk is a diabetes-friendly food choice because it is lower in carbohydrate compared to dairy and some of the other plant-based alternative milk”, according to Toby Smithson, registered dietitian, and founder of Diabetes EveryDay and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.
Drinking almond milk or pairing it with carb-containing foods like cereal or oatmeal can help people with diabetes enjoy their favorite foods while easily managing their blood sugars.
One cup of unsweetened almond milk has only 3.4 grams of carbohydrates!
4. It’s Dairy and Lactose-Free
“Whether it’s a lactose intolerance or sensitivity to one of the other components of cow’s milk, such as whey or casein, milk can be problematic for lots of folks”, explains Marie Murphy, MS, RDN, CLT at MEM Nutrition & Wellness .
Replacing dairy in your diet with a plant-based alternative like almond milk is a great way to enjoy milk if regular dairy is an issue for you.
Lactose intolerance occurs when your body is unable to break down lactose, the natural sugar found in dairy milk.
This can lead to cramps, bloating, diarrhea, or other stomach problems, per John Hopkins Medicine.
A milk allergy, on the other hand, is an allergy to a protein in milk, casein or whey, and can be more serious leading to a rash, vomiting, or trouble breathing.
In either case, almond milk is a great substitute as it’s naturally dairy and lactose-free.
5. A Good Source of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant.
Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent damage to our cells from the byproducts of using oxygen in our metabolism, and from environmental toxins
Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, CDE // Registered Dietician
Vitamin E also supports the immune system, widens the blood vessels to prevent blood clots, and helps different cells in the body communicate with one another, per the National Institutes of Health.
Almond milk is naturally an excellent source of vitamin E with one cup providing 111% DV.
6. May Support Heart Health
Almond milk might be higher in fat than some other plant-based milk, but the fat it does have is heart-healthy.
With only 0.2 grams of saturated fat, the rest of the fat comes in the form of unsaturated fats, which have heart protective benefits.
The unsaturated fats in almond milk can help lower your bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol needed for a healthy heart, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
7. May Support Brain Health
The brain is especially at risk for oxidative damage, and this risk only increases with age.
The powerful antioxidant effect of vitamin E can potentially protect the brain from the damage and cognitive decline that occurs with aging and possibly even delay or prevent damage from Alzheimer’s Disease, per a December 2014 review in Nutrients.
With over 100% of the daily value for vitamin E in each cup, almond milk is the perfect ally for supporting brain health.
8. Enriched Almond Milk Supports Bone Health
Dairy milk is often advertised as the best way to get calcium.
Thankfully, if you’re dairy-free you don’t have to worry about a calcium deficiency, as long as you’re replacing dairy milk with another rich source of calcium.
Adequate calcium intake is essential for building and maintaining bones and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Kelsey Sackmann, MS, RD // Registered Dietitian
Almond milk is often fortified with calcium to help you meet your needs without dairy. “A single cup of unsweetened almond milk delivers 482 mg of calcium, that’s about 45% of your recommended daily intake”, Sackmann adds.
Just remember to look at the label since manufacturers can add any amount of calcium they’d like (or none at all).
9. Includes Nutrients To Support A Healthy Immune System
Choosing enriched almond milk can provide some of the essential nutrients you need to support a healthy immune system.
Almonds are one of the high-fat plant foods that provide this essential vitamin in large quantities.
As a powerful antioxidant, it’s essential to helping your body fight off infection, per the Cleveland Clinic.
While your body can make its own vitamin D from sunlight, cold climates, cloudy days, and sun protection can keep you from making enough of it. That's why many men and women are vitamin D deficient.
Almond milk is often enriched with vitamin D to help you meet your needs.
This fat-soluble vitamin has been found to fight infections and reduce inflammation making it a key player in immune system support, according to Harvard Health.
Who Should Not Drink Almond Milk?
While almond milk is a great choice for many people, there are a few instances where almond milk should be avoided.
Tree nut allergies
If you have a tree nut allergy and are allergic to almonds, you’ll need to stay away from almond milk.
You’ll want to be careful with other brands of plant milk as well as they could be manufactured with the same equipment used to make almond milk. Always be sure to read the label.
Almond milk is not a suitable substitute for infant formula, breastmilk, or even for babies over 1 who get a majority of their calories and protein from milk.
With very limited protein and calories, toddlers often need a more substantial milk source like dairy or soy to meet their needs.
Always check with your pediatrician on which type of milk is best for your baby or toddler.
The Bottom Line
Almond milk is a healthy and delicious plant-based milk that’s low in calories and carbs, high in flavor, and full of powerful health benefits.
Some nutrients, like vitamin E, are naturally found in almond milk, but many manufacturers also add other important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D which can help you meet your needs without drinking dairy.
All of these nutrients help almond milk to be a healthy plant-based milk alternative.