As you go about managing your diet plan, you might be cutting out dairy as part of your efforts. Many people do find that dairy-rich foods are less than desirable for their health for a number of reasons.
First, they’re high in calories. One cup of two-percent milk can set you back nearly 150 calories. Second, they’re rich in saturated fat. Unless you get the fat free varieties, dairy products do contain a lot of fat that you need to be concerned about.
Third, they contain lactose, which really does a number on many people’s digestive systems. If you’re lactose intolerant, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
And fourth, they can be linked to inflammation. Drinking another animal’s milk is something that only humans do and when you stop and think about it, it is actually quite odd.
This is just a shortlist of the reasons why cutting dairy out may be a wise choice – milk included.
But if milk leaves the picture, what options do you have? If you drink coffee, chances are you want some milk or cream in there. If you love cereal, you may not want to eat it dry and bland. If you’re preparing a recipe that calls for milk, what can you use instead?
Finding a suitable substitute is definitely something that you need to be doing.
Enter almond milk. Almond milk has fantastic nutrition that cannot be overlooked and is something that just about everyone should be incorporating into their diet plan.
So what’s so amazing about almond milk? How can almond milk help you see the best results possible from your nutrition plan? Let’s go over all this and more so you know why it’s a must-have on your grocery shopping list.
The Calorie Content
We live in a world where sadly, the obesity rate just keeps growing and growing. Despite the fact that our knowledge base of health information and what’s good for us is expanding, so too are our waistlines. It doesn’t really seem to matter that we are becoming more educated on proper food choices and how to exercise to maintain healthy body weight, we are still putting foods that are leading us to pack on the pounds in our body.
In all of this, becoming more calorie-conscious is key. If there is one thing that you can do starting right now to help you maintain better body weight, it’s definitely monitoring your calorie intake more closely.
Calories matter. Don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise. Some proponents will say that as long as you eat healthy foods, you don’t need to worry about counting calories.
Believe me when I tell you they are wrong. You do need to concern yourself with this if weight loss is something you’re interested in.
The good news is that almond milk earns top marks for being lower in calories than traditional milk, so it’s a much easier food to get into your diet plan without worry.
Here are the nutritional stats per one cup of 2% cow’s milk along with the stats of 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. Note that the stats of almond milk will vary slightly based on the brand and whether or not it was sweetened, so the purpose of this we are assuming unsweetened plain almond milk.
5 grams of fat
12 grams of carbs
12 grams of sugar
9 grams of protein
2.5 grams of fat
1 gram of carbohydrate
0 grams of sugar
1 gram of protein
What’s more, is that some almond milk varieties are also fortified so come with added nutrition. For instance, Silk Almond Milk provides you with 45% of your calcium intake for the day along with 20% of your vitamin E intake and 25% of your vitamin D needs.
This makes it even more beneficial than cow’s milk for getting these nutrients in.
Comparing these together, you’ll save yourself 100 calories, half the fat, and a whopping 12 grams of sugar.
The only real advantage that cow’s milk provides over almonds milk when strictly looking at the nutritional stats is that cow’s milk delivers 9 grams of protein as well. So that will be of benefit to you.
But if you really need extra protein, simply mix half a scoop of your favorite protein powder in with the almond milk and you’ll be on part with the cow’s milk – and still come in with fewer calories as half a scoop of protein will yield only around 50-60 calories depending on the brand.
It’s clear that from a nutritional standpoint, almond milk is the winner.
If you’re watching your heart health, you’re also likely watching your cholesterol level and this is another place where almond milk does shine. Almond milk has no cholesterol at all, whereas cow’s milk, will provide you with 12.2 mg. While this isn’t a lot of cholesterol, it’s still worth noting that it’s there.
Perhaps the greater issue as far as your heart health is concerned is the fact that cow’s milk does contain more saturated fat and that can also raise cholesterol levels over time. So even though the actual cholesterol level is showing to be quite low, this doesn’t mean you’re home free.
Could Help Lower Cancer Risks
Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in today’s society, so one that you definitely want to be doing all you can to protect yourself from. While you cannot completely prevent cancer, there are many steps you can take to help lessen your risk.
Adding almond milk to your diet may just be one of those. Research has shown that almond milk may help to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells for instance, so for men who are concerned about their prostate health, swapping out cow’s milk for almond milk is a very wise move.
Additionally, the monounsaturated fat found in almond milk may help to further lower the risk factor for endometrial cancer, so it’s also of great benefit to women as well1.
No Impact On Blood Sugar Levels
Another very important quality of almond milk over cow’s milk is that it won’t have any impact on blood glucose levels. When blood glucose levels start fluctuating, that’s when you get hunger, irritability, and may start feeling weak or dizzy. It can also lead to eating more calories than you should as you’ll seek out more sugary foods in order to bring your blood glucose levels back up again.
If you experience a wide fluctuation in blood glucose levels throughout the day multiple times, this can also put you at a greater risk for diabetes as well over the long term.
And, if you happen to already have diabetes, then you likely already know that you must be doing what you can to control your blood sugar since your body doesn’t manage it’s insulin response as well as it should.
While milk doesn’t actually have any added sugar (unless you purchase chocolate or another flavored variety), it does contain naturally occurring sugar in the form of lactose.
While naturally occurring sugar doesn’t tend to be as harmful as added table sugar is (think fruit for example), if you take in too much of it, it’s still going to be problematic no matter how you look at it. Sugar is sugar and it will still influence your well-being.
There are other issues with regards to lactose in particular, which we’ll talk about in a few moments.
Per one cup of milk, you’re taking in 12 grams of sugar, which is a considerable amount. If you were to drink three glasses per day, which is often what’s recommended to people to get their calcium intake in, that’s a whopping 36 grams of sugar per day just coming from milk alone.
Granted, this is better than drinking three cans of soda per day for sure, it’s still very problematic and will lead to long-term health-related issues if you aren’t careful.
That much sugar each day is also harmful to your teeth as well and could increase your risk factor for cavities.
Prevention Of Osteoporosis
Are you meeting your calcium needs? If not this could be yet another reason why it’s important that you are considering adding almond milk to your day.
While milk is often the go-to recommendation for getting your calcium needs met, almond milk is actually just as good, if not a better solution. Many people completely overlook this fact, but almonds do contain calcium.
If you were trying to get your calcium intake strictly from almonds, you would for sure struggle because almonds are so high in calories so, in order to get that level of calcium needed, you’d have to take in hundreds of calories in the process.
But when you opt for almond milk, the process goes much quicker and easier. With many brands of almond milk providing 40% or higher of your total daily calcium needs per cup, it’s never been easier.
This will help you maintain strong bones and work towards preventing stress fractures and osteoarthritis down the road.
Remember, your skeletal system is constantly remodeling itself, replacing the new bone with old. This said it does so very slowly. So what you are doing right now is paving the way for the future. If you aren’t eating foods that are building up your bones in the present, it’s going to come back to get you in the future.
On top of this, research also suggests that adding monounsaturated fat to your diet is also a good way to help stop bone weakness, especially in females, so the fat found in almonds can also really serve to be of some benefit2.
You might be thinking that because almond milk is so low in calories that means it doesn’t pack in much nutrition. This, however, would be wrong. Almond milk is actually a fantastic source of vitamin E, which is a powerful fat-soluble vitamin in the body that also serves to offer antioxidant benefits and may help to reduce the occurrence of free radical damage taking place.
Vitamin E can help to slow down the aging process, reducing the effects of oxidation on the body while also helping to make your skin glow. Many people do report that after they add more vitamin E to their diet, they see noticeable improvements in how their skin, hair and nails appear and often this is due largely to the addition of this nutrient.
Because vitamin E helps to combat oxidation and oxidation plays a big role in the development of diseases, this single vitamin could also help you achieve such things as a lower risk factor for cancer, heart disease, and other age-related degenerative disorders.
Lactose, which is essentially the type of sugar that is found in cow’s milk is, unfortunately, going to cause a number of issues for many people. Some people actually lack the digestive enzyme entirely to digest this form of milk sugar, while others simply are intolerant to them and don’t feel well after adding them to their diet.
What kinds of symptoms can you expect to experience when you have these in your plan?
Some of the key symptoms you may notice include:
· Stomach pain
· A general sense of weakness
Lactose intolerance can be a very unpleasant issue to be dealing with on an ongoing basis and yet another good reason why many people will choose to use almond milk over cow’s milk. It’s totally lactose-free, so you can kiss these issues goodbye.
Those who are dealing with these issues regardless of whether they plan to cut out dairy or not would also benefit from using a high-quality digestive enzyme as well such as MassZymes.
May Help Lower Inflammation In The Body
We all know that nuts are a powerful food that offers a number of great health benefits, so it only stands to reason that the milk made from nuts will do the same. Almond milk is great for helping to decrease levels of inflammation in the body, which can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain that you may be battling as well.
Inflammation is often at the heart of so many different diseases, so it’s something that you must work hard to combat against. When inflammation runs high, that’s when you’re apt to be feeling achiness in the joints, notice swelling in the entire body, and have a general sense of being very unwell.
The thing to know about inflammation, however, is that often you don’t realize it’s present until it’s starting to make itself known in the form of disease, at which point you really have a lot of work ahead of you to get it lowered back down again.
So the idea is to instead do everything in your power to prevent inflammation so it doesn’t become that issue in the first place.
So there you have a few of the key benefits that almond milk has to offer. Even if you decide you don’t want to replace your cow’s milk entirely with almond milk, replacing a few glasses per week will still offer amazing benefits. The calcium content of almond milk alone should be motivation enough to start adding it into your plan as most of us aren’t getting enough of this nutrient that we need.
The great thing about almond milk as well is that it does come in different varieties – plain, chocolate, vanilla, unsweetened, sweetened, etc., so you can pick and choose which variety will be right for you. Do keep in mind however that if you are adding flavors, you may also be adding sugar, so you’ll want to check the labels for that.
Almond milk is also highly versatile and can be used in pretty much the exact same way you would use cow’s milk, so it’s easy to consider it a direct substitute.
And, if you really aren’t one for almond milk at all, remember there are other great cow’s milk alternatives that you can try such as coconut milk, rice milk, soymilk, and cashew milk as well. Each of these will have a slightly different nutritional profile so they won’t offer the same benefits we discussed here, but are worthy options to consider.
1. Zhao, Jing, et al. “Dietary fat intake and endometrial cancer risk: A dose response meta-analysis.” Medicine 95.27 (2016).
2. Wang, Yang, et al. “High fat diet enriched with saturated, but not monounsaturated fatty acids adversely affects femur, and both diets increase calcium absorption in older female mice.” Nutrition research 36.7 (2016): 742-750.