Almond milk

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Homemade almond milk

Almond milk is a drink made from ground almonds, frequently used as a substitute for dairy milk.

Almond milk is slightly beige in colour and has a creamy texture and nutty taste. It can be made at home by grinding almonds with water,[1] or it can be purchased with increasing availability. Unlike animal milk, almond milk has neither cholesterol nor lactose and being a plant food, it is often consumed by vegans, vegetarians, the lactose intolerant, and others forgoing dairy. Commercial almond milk often comes in plain, vanilla, or chocolate flavors and is sometimes enriched with vitamins.

History[edit]

Almond paste, used as a quick base to prepare almond milk.

In the Middle Ages, almond milk was known in both the Islamic world and Christendom. As a nut (the "fruit of a plant"), it is suitable for consumption during Lent. Almond milk was a staple of medieval kitchens because cow's milk could not keep for long without spoiling.[2]

Historically, almond milk was also called amygdalate after the Latin name for the almond. It was consumed over a region extending from the Iberian Peninsula to East Asia.[3] Le Viandier, a 14th-century recipe collection, contains a recipe for almond milk and recommends its use as a substitute for animal milk during fast days.[4]

In the United States, almond milk remained a fairly niche health food item until the early 2000s, when its popularity began to increase. In 2011 alone, almond milk sales increased by 79%.[5] In 2013, it surpassed soy milk as the most popular plant-based milk in the U.S.[6] Popular brands of almond milk include Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze and WhiteWave Foods' Silk PureAlmond.[6]

Nutrition[edit]

Almonds are rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus, tryptophan, copper, and calcium.[1][7] "The UK Institute of Food Research found finely ground almonds contain potential probiotic properties that could help boost digestive health by increasing the levels of certain beneficial bacteria in the stomach".[8]

Almond milk has less protein than cow's milk and other animal milk substances.[8] For children with atopic dermatitis under two years of age, almond milk is not a suitable replacement for breast milk, cow's milk, or hydrolyzed formulas due to the low protein.[9]

Health benefits[edit]

Almond milk is a popular alternative to dairy milk; however, it contains less calcium and protein than dairy milk does, meaning that it cannot serve as a complete alternative to dairy milk.

Almond milk has a number of health benefits, including:

  • Lower caloric content compared to dairy milk;
  • No cholesterol or saturated fat as well as low sodium content;
  • High calcium levels, which may reduce the risk of developing arthritis and osteoporosis;
  • 50 percent recommended daily value of vitamin E;
  • Low glycemic index, reducing risk of diabetes, and
  • No lactose, making it suitable for lactose intolerant people.[10]

Carrageenan controversy[edit]

Carrageenan is an additive derived from seaweed and is used as a stabilizer and thickener in almond milk. Although it is considered safe by the FDA, some scientists have raised questions about the potentially harmful effects of widespread carrageenan consumption. There is no question that carrageenan itself is safe for consumption, but one of its chemical derivatives, poligeenan (referred to as "degraded carrageenan" in older literature), is a known carcinogen and is not approved as a food additive. The argument over the safety of carrageenan consumption hinges on the claim that carrageenan in food is converted into poligeenan at significant levels in foods or during digestion.[11] Other scientists have concluded that carrageenan is not converted to poligeenan to any significant extent in the gastrointestinal tract.[12][13] Carrageenan is commonly used to induce inflammation in animal tissues by direct injection; degraded carrageenan (poligeenan) has been shown to cause ulceration in the intestine, but this effect has not been demonstrated with carrageenan itself.[14]

Production[edit]

The basic method of modern domestic almond milk production is to grind almonds in a blender with water and honey (or any other sweetener), then strain out the almond pulp (flesh) with a strainer, cheesecloth,[15] or nut milk bag. Almond milk can also be made by adding water and sweeteners to almond butter.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Larmer, Christina (2011-01-09). "The pros and cons of almond milk". Adelaide Now. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  2. ^ Bynum, W.C. (1988), Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, University of California Press, p. 41, ISBN 978-0-520-06329-7 
  3. ^ "Vegetarians in Paradise/Almond History, Almond Nutrition, Almond Recipe". vegparadise.com. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  4. ^ Chiodo, Tony (2004-05-04). "Nuts-and-bolts brekkie". The Age. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  5. ^ David Sprinkle (2012-01-19). "With Almond as the New White Milk, Dairy Alternatives Make Further Inroads". Marketwire. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  6. ^ a b Wong, Venessa (2013-08-21). "Soy Milk Fades as Americans Opt for Drinkable Almonds". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  7. ^ "Nuts-and-bolts brekkie". Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  8. ^ a b Larmer, Christina. "Almond Milk". Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  9. ^ Keller MD, Shuker M, Heimall J, Cianferoni A. (Jan 2012). "Severe malnutrition resulting from use of rice milk in food elimination diets for atopic dermatitis". Isr Med Assoc J 14 (1). PubMed. pp. 40–2. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  10. ^ http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/benefits-almond-milk.html
  11. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1242073/
  12. ^ Cohen, S.M.; Ito, N. (2002). "A critical review of the toxicological effects of carrageenan and processed eucheuma seaweed on the gastrointestinal tract.". Critical Reviews in Toxicology 32 (5): 413–444. PMID 12389870. 
  13. ^ Weiner, N.L. (2014). "Food additive carrageenan: Part II: A critical review of carrageenan in vivo safety studies". Critical Reviews in Toxicology 44 (3): 244–269. PMID 24467586. 
  14. ^ Necas, J.; Bartosikova, L. (2013). "Carrageenan: a review" (PDF). Veterinarni Medicina 58 (4): 187–205. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Christensen, Emma (2013-05-28). "How to Make Almond Milk at Home". Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  16. ^ "Make Almond Milk Using Almond Butter". August 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]