The Unhealthy Truth About Nut Milks (and Plant-Based Milks)
May 4, 2022
Nut milks are fashion. Have you switched to plant-based milk? Maybe you have, data have shown that the consumption of plant-based milks is up over 60% between 2012 and 2017. But just because nut milks are trending, doesn't mean it is nescessilarity healthy for you. Like many retail skincare companies that capitalize on marketing trends and banking on the latest fads thus making possibly exaggerated advertising claims ... nut milks are not different.
Now, we are not talking about the almond milk you laboriously and lovingly make in your own kitchen, soaking your beloved nuts, blending them with a little sea salt, vanilla bean and a couple of dates before gently pressing the liquid through muslin. The end result of that is delicious and creamy and good for you. Like homemade almond milk, All Almond milk should contain two to four ingredients. Almonds and water are essential, while the addition of a little bit of salt and a natural, light sweetener creates a lovely depth of flavor. However, did you know that the majority of the commercial nut milks contain very little of the actual nut? Most almond milks for example can contain as little as 2 or 3 almonds. So what is the 98% of that very expensive nut milk made of? Most likely, some emulsifiers, and sometimes the odd sweetener along with nutrients such as vitamin A and D that is artificially added.
Unfortunately, as the plant-based milk industry has exploded in the last decade, there are many different brands with highly variable ingredients. It’s a bit of a minefield. Often, brands like Almond Breeze will use meaningless, marketing terms like ‘natural’ or ‘full of fiber’ which can be misleading and cover up unwanted additional ingredients like added sugar, preservatives, stabilizers, seed oils and gums ... all things we do not want to see in the lists of ingredients. Oatly, a recently much well-received plant-based milk, contains canola oil. The trouble with canola oil or similar refined Omega 6 fats is that during processing and after they are heated to high temperatures producing oxidation, which in quantities over time can contribute inflammation amongst other issues in our bodies. And rice milk is sometimes a hidden ingredient in some plant-based milk which are not good for children due to possible arsenic levels. As for adults with blood sugar issues like diabetes or insulin resistance, the hidden rice milk will spike glycemic levels in those individuals.
Many choose soy milk for it having the highest protein content of the plant milks, however, in general plant protein can be less bioavailable (due to lack of limiting proteins). These can be added but it is often at the expense of taste and aroma, so many companies avoid it. There has also been some concern relating to phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogen has been shown to be potentially hormone disrupting.
There are individuals we are on a restrictive diet for health reasons and do not have the luxury of making their own nut milk at home. Ultimately, reading the label is so important when it comes to choosing a nut-milk. Like a proper skincare regimen, less is more. Look for minimal ingredients.
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