Getting Nutty over Non-Diary Milk?
With growing numbers of vegans, animal advocates and people with lactose-related dietary restrictions, more and more of us are turning to the shelves of non-diary milk choices. Sales market research shows that sales of nut milk have reported increased by 61% in the US alone. So it seems even those who don’t have food allergies are trying out nut kinds of milk, maybe even just out of curiosity.
So what is nut milk?
Nut kinds of milk are a dairy milk alternative made by soaking, blending and straining many types of nuts – however, the most common types are almond, cashew, hazelnuts. Nut kinds of milk are very different from cow’s milk but have their own health benefits and appealing taste. First, they generally have fewer calories, but almost just as much (and in some cases, more!) calcium and vitamin D per serving. Second, they naturally have fewer carbohydrates per serving (but read your labels because many are sweetened with sugar, agave, or honey—so watch out for hidden carbs). Next, many kinds of milk contain fiber which is great for anyone looking to keep their intestines running smoothly. And, they are naturally vegan and lactose-free. Last, nut kinds of milk can be substituted in common cooking and baking recipes and the result is hard to differentiate concerning flavor and consistency.
The downside of nut kinds of milk
It takes a lot of nuts to make a single cup of nut milk. And before the nut is actually grown, it takes about 2.3 gallons of water to produce just 1 single nut! So there is a question about the sustainability or environmental wisdom of this trend. Nut milk producers also tend to use additives and fillers to improve, flavor, consistency, and shelf life of the product. And, currently, nut milk cost more than traditional cow’s milk – often 2x more. But most nut milk is fairly easy to make, so DIY alternatives are also an option.
What’s the healthiest nut milk?
Without knowing your individual needs and dietary restrictions, it’s impossible to say for sure. However, it seems that most people repeatedly buy almonds and/or cashew milk. Probably because both have an extremely low-calorie count, at least 25% of the daily recommended allowance of calcium and vitamin D, and they both have a high content of vitamin E.
So don’t let lactose intolerance keep you from enjoying a creamy treat in your cereal bowl or in your morning coffee. Recipes are constantly being improved to suit a wide range of tastes. If you’re curious, try out some of the delicious vegan-friendly nut milk options in your area. Foodies and food allergies sufferers alike are finding more options in supermarkets and food outlets too. In fact, more and more coffee shops are offering nut-based milk as part of their regular programs. Drink up!