Almond milk is a plant milk with a creamy texture and nutty taste. It contains neither cholesterol nor lactose, and is often consumed by the lactose-intolerant and others who want to avoid dairy products, including vegans. Commercial almond milk comes in sweetened, unsweetened, plain, vanilla and chocolate flavors, and is usually enriched with vitamins. It can also be made at home using a blender, almonds and water.
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.
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. 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.
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%. In 2013, it surpassed soy milk as the most popular plant-based milk in the U.S. Popular brands of almond milk include Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze and WhiteWave Foods' Silk PureAlmond.
Almonds are rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus, tryptophan, copper, and calcium. "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".
Commercially-sold almond milk has less protein than cow's milk and other animal milk substances. 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.
Almond milk is a popular alternative to dairy milk. It contains less protein than dairy milk. Some commercial almond milks contain added calcium. Features of almond milk include:
- low in calories compared to dairy milk;
- no cholesterol or saturated fat;
- low sodium content;
- high calcium levels, which may reduce the risk of developing arthritis and osteoporosis;
- 50 percent recommended daily value of vitamin E;
- unsweetened almond milk has a low glycemic index, reducing risk of diabetes, and
- no lactose, making it suitable for lactose-intolerant people.
The basic method of modern domestic almond milk production is to grind almonds in a blender with water, then strain out the almond pulp (flesh) with a strainer, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag. Almond milk can also be made by adding water to almond butter.
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- Make your own DIY Almond Milk in Two Minutes