Are you wondering if you should buy sweetened or unsweetened almond milk? If so, then you're in the right place.
In this guide, we'll look at both types of almond milk and explain the difference between them, so you can figure out which almond milk is best for your lifestyle.
What’s The Difference Between Sweetened And Unsweetened Almond Milk?
Sweetened almond milk is higher in sugar and calories than unsweetened almond milk. Sweetened almond milk often contains more added ingredients than unsweetened milk as well.
Which suits you best will depend on your preferences, your dietary needs, and what you are used to.
Companies add sugar to sweetened almond milk to make it more palatable to people who have a sweet tooth.
Dairy milk is sweeter than plain almond milk, so people switching from dairy to almond milk sometimes need to adjust to the taste.
Sweetened almond milk makes the transition easier for some people.
The two are similar in their nutritional content, although sweetened almond milk will inevitably be higher in sugar and calories.
It may also be higher in other nutrients, depending on what kind of sweetener is used to make it, but in general, you’ll only need to compare the calories and the sugar content.
It is worth being aware that the additional sugar can add many calories, and sweetened almond milk may contain as much as 15 grams of sugar per cup
We generally recommend unsweetened milk. You can add natural sweetener if you want a sweeter flavor. Monk fruit, honey, and agave syrup work well. Learn more here: How to Make Almond Milk Taste Better
What Is Sweetened Almond Milk?
Sweetened almond milk is a plant-based drink made with almonds, water, and a sweetener (usually added sugar).
Almond milk is among the most popular plant-based milk and has a creamy, silky flavor that many people love.
It is also pleasant on cereal, although some people find it takes time to get used to the flavor. You can use it in smoothies, too.
Because almond milk does not contain the vitamins and nutrients naturally found in dairy milk, manufacturers often add these through a process known as a fortification.
You will probably find that vitamins A, D, and E have all been added, along with calcium.
This is done to make it a viable alternative to cow’s milk without people suffering from nutrient deficiencies when they make the switch.
Almond milk is free from cholesterol and dairy, making it an ideal option for many individuals who suffer from lactose intolerance or are trying to reduce their cholesterol levels.
It can be sweetened using a variety of different ingredients.
You may find almond milk that has been sweetened with sugar, maple syrup, stevia, honey, or something else.
What Is Unsweetened Almond Milk?
Unsweetened almond milk is also made by grinding up almonds and mixing them with water.
It’s very similar to the almond milk described above – but it has no added sweeteners, even natural ones.
The only sweetness in the milk comes from the almonds’ sweetness. If sweeteners have been added, the milk should be labeled as sweetened.
You might prefer to use unsweetened almond milk either because you aim to cut down on the sugar in your diet or because you prefer the taste.
Still, in other ways, it isn’t noticeably different from sweetened almond milk.
If fortified, it contains similar levels of vitamins and additional calcium.
You can use it in the same ways, including in baking, cereal, tea, or coffee. You may find that you need a little extra sugar when baking.
Unsweetened Almond Milk: Pros & Cons
If you are thinking of buying unsweetened almond milk, there are a few things that you should consider, including your health and your dietary goals.
These will affect how you manage your diet and whether unsweetened almond milk would benefit you.
Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of this option.
The major benefits of unsweetened almond milk include:
- It is low in calories and contains 0 added sugar in any form, making it suitable for people who are trying to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet.
- It’s free from lactose, making it suitable for those who cannot consume dairy products.
- It’s high in vitamins and minerals and contains things like copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and more.
- It’s low in fat, and the fats it contains are all considered healthy fats.
- It usually contains no animal products, making it suitable for vegans and helping people reduce their food footprint.
- It contains less sugar than cow’s milk. Two percent cow’s milk contains around 12.3 grams of sugar per cup (mainly lactose sugars). A cup of unsweetened almond milk has approximately 0.4 grams of sugar. Swapping from dairy milk to unsweetened almond milk is a great way to reduce sugar intake.
The disadvantages of unsweetened almond milk are:
- It can be hard to get used to the taste, especially if you have a sweet tooth. While it isn’t bitter, it may not taste as creamy or appealing as you expect, making the transition period much harder.
- It may not be suitable for infants or people with nut allergies.
Sweetened Almond Milk: Pros & Cons
Sweetened almond milk also has its shares of advantages and disadvantages, so let’s start with the benefits:
- Since it’s sweeter, some people find it easier to transition to drinking sweetened almond milk rather than unsweetened.
- You may need less sugar in your tea or coffee due to the sweetener in the milk.
- You may need less sugar in your baking for the same reason.
The disadvantages of sweetened almond milk include:
- It is much higher in sugar and calories than unsweetened almond milk.
- It is higher in sugar than cow’s milk—up to 15 grams per cup, compared with cow’s milk, 12.3 grams. You should also remember that most of the sugars in cow’s milk are lactose-based, natural sugars, whereas almond milk may use processed sugars.
- Because of the sugar levels, sweetened almond milk may not be great when baking, and it will alter the taste of drinks more. You can’t take the sugar out of your recipe, so you have less control over the flavors, and you may end up with unpleasantly sweet recipes.
- Although almost all almond milk is vegan, you must check that the sweetener added isn’t an animal product. Almond milk sweetened with honey isn’t suitable for vegans, so remember to check this before purchasing sweetened almond milk. The unsweetened versions should be suitable for vegans in most cases.
Should You Use Sweetened Or Unsweetened Almond Milk?
This choice needs to come down to personal preference to some degree because it depends on many factors, including your diet, your health, and your tastes.
If you find unsweetened almond milk undrinkable, you may want to try sweetened, even if you want to swap it for unsweetened later gradually.
On the whole, unsweetened almond milk is likely to be better for you, but either can be a healthy swap if you want to move away from animal products.
When it comes to sweetened vs unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened is generally a better bet unless you are trying to consume more calories.
However, both of these drinks offer lots in the way of minerals and vitamins, and they are a great way to reduce your dependency on the dairy industry and become a little more eco-friendly.