So you’ve decided to drink almond milk, but for cost reasons or through the sheer belief that foods prepared in your own kitchen are necessarily healthier than store-bought alternatives, you want to make your own. It’s not hard to do, and in 10 seconds of googling you’ll find at least a dozen recipes with step-by-step instructions. You’re probably excited to try this all-natural almond milk, steeped in organic nutty goodness, in the comfort of your own home. No processed milk beverages here!
Milk-type beverages are not created equally, so it’s important to know how homemade almond milks stack up, both to commercial varieties and to eating whole almonds themselves. For most almond milk recipes, 1 cup of almonds, soaked, are blended with about 4 cups of water (additional flavours and sweeteners may be added), the slurry is strained and you are left with a smooth milky liquid. A most basic calculation shows that 250 ml of milk is roughly equivalent to eating a 1/4 cup of whole almonds. Thus, home made almond milk would provide ~80-90 mg calcium, 4 g fibre, 0 ug vitamin D, 200 kcal and 8 g protein. However, the almond solids are strained out of the almond milk, including most of the fibre, protein, and some of the fat. So the actual calorie and protein contents of the milk are ~30-50 kcal and ~1g, respectively. We don’t know exactly how much of the fat is left in the pulp, nor do we know if and how much of the vitamins and minerals are transferred to the milk. It may be more likely that the calcium can leach into the water, whereas the vitamin E is lipophilic (fat-loving) and will go wherever the fat goes. Until some true chemical analyses on homemade almond milk appear, we can’t be sure what its true micronutrient content is. However, we can be pretty sure 1 cup of homemade almond milk has fewer nutrients than 1/4 of whole nuts. Homemade versions will also never have the same vitamin and mineral content (namely vitamin D and calcium) as commercial products because homemade milks are not fortified.
If you really love to blend up your own frothy, nutty beverages, go ahead and enjoy them. Chances are they are not completely devoid of nutrition, either. But as you sip your almond milk latte, do not assume that you are getting a better nutrition intake, or even equivalent, to what is available in stores; your almond milk is probably also less nutritious than just eating the almonds. If making your own is still your path, search out other sources of vitamin D and calcium to round out your diet.
So now that you’re informed, enjoy whichever you choose