According to a 2021 survey conducted by the International Food Information Council, 39% of people follow a specific diet to get healthy or lose weight.
One of the leading dietary approaches is clean eating, with just under 5% following the paleo specifically.
If you follow a paleo diet, you may be wondering if you can use almond milk as a paleo-friendly replacement for dairy milk in recipes or as a creamer in non-caffeinated tea.
Yes, almond milk is paleo. However, it depends on the ingredients. Your best bet is to go with plain, unsweetened almond milk free of additives.
Want to know what to avoid, and what your best options are?
Read on to learn what type of almond milk is considered okay for paleo and which brands are best when following this type of diet.
What is Almond Milk?
Almond milk boasts a wide range of nutrients that can help support a healthy lifestyle.
A cup of unsweetened almond milk contains around:
- 39 calories
- 1.05 grams of protein
- 2.52 grams of fat
- 3.43 grams of carbohydrates
- .5 grams of fiber
Almond milk may also contain nutrients like zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
You can make almond milk at home by blending whole almonds or an almond base starter and water. Some almond milk recipes suggest adding a touch of salt, vanilla extract, and sweetener to intensify the flavors of the beverage.
You can also readily buy almond milk at the supermarket if you prefer. There are several brands available, as well as flavored and sweetened options.
Most store-bought almond milk contains additives such as natural flavors, lecithin, and carrageenan to thicken the product and make it shelf-stable.
Although these additives are generally safe, carrageenan ingredients have been linked to digestive issues, particularly in people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Additives like lecithin and gellan gum can also cause gassiness and bloating.
As you can imagine, these additives aren't paleo.
Is Almond Milk Paleo?
Yes, some types of almond milk are paleo-friendly. However, there are several factors to consider when deciding which almond milk options can work for your paleo diet and which don’t.
It’s helpful to explore the paleo diet guidelines, then take a closer look at non-paleo additives to avoid in your almond milk and whether you're more likely to find a paleo-friendly option in the store or by making it at home.
Paleo is a popular diet that seeks to improve health by eating foods that would have been part of the human diet in the Paleolithic era. The Paleo diet avoids many of today’s processed foods, dairy, and grains, promoting health through clean eating.
A typical paleo diet includes foods like:
- Honey or maple syrup
- Meats and fish
- Oils from seeds and nuts
Alternatively, paleo guidelines suggest avoiding the following foods:
- Dairy products
- Legumes (lentils, peanuts, beans)
- Processed foods
- Refined sugar
These food groups emerged when humans began to farm rather than hunt and gather.
Paleo asserts that by avoiding these foods and sticking to only foods available in the paleolithic era, you can reduce your chances of experiencing adverse health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Homemade vs. Store-Bought Almond Milk For Paleo
When deciding on almond milk for your paleo diet, it's important to look at the added ingredients.
Although almond milk is made of almonds, which are allowed on paleo, many store-bought almond milk brands put additives in their product that aren’t considered paleo-friendly.
Additionally, paleo seeks to eliminate as much processed food as possible from your diet.
Depending on the strictness with which you follow paleo, manufactured almond milk may be considered a processed food, along with the gums and sweeteners added in.
Avoid These Almond Milk Ingredients If You're Paleo
If you buy almond milk from the supermarket, avoid brands with the following non-paleo ingredients commonly found in store-bought brands:
- Natural flavor
- Gellan gum
- Calcium carbonate
- Tapioca starch
- Sunflower lecithin
- Synthetic vitamins or minerals
Homemade almond milk is almost certainly paleo-friendly.
It is minimally processed and requires just a handful of ingredients.
You can make almond milk by soaking whole, raw almonds in water overnight. Then, blend them with filtered water and strain the pulp to get a smooth consistency.
For natural flavor, you can add a paleo-friendly sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or dates and a vanilla bean.
You can also use an almond milk base like JOI if you don’t want to mess with whole almonds.
JOI contains only one ingredient - ground blanched almonds - making it perfectly fine for the paleo diet.
To make almond milk with a base, you put about a tablespoon of the base into filtered water, add paleo-friendly sweetener if desired, and blend.
Top 5 Paleo-Friendly Almond Milk Brands
As a paleo dieter, you may not have time to make your own almond milk.
Luckily, there are a few options for those looking for a paleo-friendly store-bought version of almond milk.
Elmhurst Almond Milk
Elmhurst almond milk is 100% paleo-friendly, making it one of the best store-bought options for paleo dieters.
This almond milk only contains water and nuts, which means it's just like homemade almond milk.
Elmhurst almond milk is also a convenient option because it’s shelf-stable and is jam-packed with four times more almonds per serving than other brands.
The company uses a patented hydrorelease method to make its almond milk super creamy and thick without additives or emulsifiers.
The best part is if you can't find Elmhurst almond milk in your store, it's also available online at Amazon.com.
Three Trees Almond Milk
Three Trees almond milk is a 100% paleo-friendly almond milk option. This beverage contains organic almonds and filtered water, with no other additives, emulsifiers, or sweeteners.
Three Trees almond milk uses 100% sustainably grown, non-GMO almonds and packs 4 grams of protein into one serving.
If you are looking for pre-made almond milk that allows you to adhere to a strict paleo diet, this option is perfect.
MALK Unsweetened Almond Milk
MALK unsweetened almond milk is made from just three ingredients to make a healthy, mostly paleo-friendly plant-based beverage.
MALK contains organic sprouted almonds (for easier digestion), filtered water, and Himalayan salt to create a delicious product.
Although processed salt is typically not allowed on paleo, most dieters consider unrefined salt okay.
Himalayan salt is minimally processed, if at all, so unless you are doing strict paleo, this almond milk is an excellent choice.
Better Than Milk Almond Drink
Better Than Milk almond drink is mostly paleo-friendly.
Better Than Milk uses Italian spring water and organic almonds to create a clean, minimally processed plant-based drink that is an excellent option for those on paleo.
It does use a thickener called locust bean gum, which comes from the seeds of the carob tree, so you’ll have to decide whether this meets your personal paleo goals.
However, with just three ingredients, this option provides a healthier alternative to manufactured almond milk than most store-bought brands.
New Barn Organics Almond Milk
New Barn Organics almond milk is a good almond milk option for people following a non-rigid paleo diet.
It uses organic almonds from a co-op farm in Spain that uses dry-farming to grow and harvest tree nuts.
This practice makes it an excellent choice for people worried about the environmental impact of growing nuts for plant-based milk.
New Barn’s almond milk does contain a touch of sea salt, which some avoid on paleo, but overall it’s an excellent choice for clean eating.
Is Almond Milk Paleo? Final Verdict
Like any diet, you have to decide how strictly you will follow paleo’s guidelines. The purpose of paleo is to move you towards clean, simple foods that your body can process more efficiently.
Almond milk is made from tree nuts and water, both of which are perfectly fine for the paleo diet. If you make your own almond milk with these two ingredients and maybe a touch of natural sweetener, your almond milk is 100% paleo.
If you opt for manufactured almond milk, you’ll find some non-paleo options that are heavily processed and contain non-paleo-friendly ingredients. These are not really paleo-approved, so avoid them when following paleo.
However, some brands contain minimal additives like salt or locust bean gum. Depending on your paleo standards, these may or may not be okay for your diet.
If these healthy options contain one extra ingredient from a natural source and are minimally processed, they are likely fine for your paleo diet. They will help you maintain healthy, clean eating more consistently, making them a good option.
You Can Drink Almond Milk on a Paleo Diet
Like other diets such as Keto, almond milk is an excellent option to replace other kinds of processed or dairy-based milk.
Whenever possible, opt to make your own plant-based milk from raw almonds or a raw almond base, or look for almond milk brands with minimal processing and added ingredients.
Explore your options and find the right brand or product that works for your dietary needs.