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Almond Milk is a Delicious Non-dairy Milk. Why Does it Taste so Good?

If you are looking for a beverage to drink, almond milk is not the best choice for weight loss. Stick with water, tea, or other natural no-calorie beverages. But let's compare two different brands of almond milk to see if they are good to use on our breakfast cereal. If you haven't done this before, these are the basics of what we look for on nutrition labels.

Almond Breeze

almond milk

The front of the package doesn't tell us much except that it contains 60 calories per serving. We have to look at the back of the carton to find out the important stuff.

almond milk label
  • The Nutrition Facts label says that the product is 42% fat, or 25 fat calories out of 60. That is quite high in fat. We like to see 10% fat in a weight loss product.

  • There are 150 mg of sodium in a 60-calorie serving. That is very high. It should be 60 mg or less.

  • It contains only 1 g fiber per serving. It would be good to see 3 or 4 g. So far, this product doesn't look too good. Let's look at the ingredient list.
almond milk ingredients
After water, the first item on the list is evaporated cane juice (sugar.) There is more sugar in this milk than almonds. Other ingredients listed that we try to avoid are:
  • salt
  • carrageenan
  • vitamin A palmitate
For more information about carrageenan and vitamin A palmitate, see our explanation of ingredients to avoid in a milk substitute.

But there are even more chemicals in this product:
  • Tricalcium phosphate is probably in there to increase the calcium content of the milk, or maybe to make it look white.
  • Potassium citrate might be included as a buffering agent to keep it at the right pH (we are not chemists and we don't know for sure why it is in there.)
  • Soy lecithin is a non-toxic emulsifier, made from soybean oil.
Some of these ingredients may be harmless and some are not. The point is, this product is not made of whole plant foods. It is a chemical soup. Let's see if our second almond milk is any better.

Pacific Almond Milk

almond milk 2

The front of this carton, as usual, doesn't tell us much except that it is the low fat original and it is all natural. But is it really?

almond milk 2 label

  • We learn from the Nutrition Facts label that this milk is 36% fat (25 calories out of 70.) Better than our first milk but still pretty high in fat.

  • There are 140 mg of sodium in a 70-calorie serving. That is double the amount that we consider acceptable.

  • A serving contains 1 g fiber, the same as our first milk.

almond milk 2 ingredients
We don't have to spend much time looking at this ingredient list. It is nearly identical to that of our first milk, except for the addition of riboflavin (B2.)

In all honesty, we can't recommend either one of these milks, no matter how good they might taste. One reason is because they are both sweetened. In fact, they contain more sugar (by weight) than almonds! What about unsweetened almond milks?

Unsweetened Almond Milks

Update September 2011:
After reading the comments below by website visitors about unsweetened, fat free almond milks, we were fascinated. Since almonds are 77% fat, we wondered how food companies were able to make fat free milk from them.....

We spent some time at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, reading the label on every unsweetened almond milk we could find. We ignored all sweetened milks. We were looking for several things:

We found five brands of unsweetened milk:

Whole Foods 365 Brand Almond Breeze Original Pacific Almond Almond Dream Trader Joe's Almond
Calories Per Serving 40 40 35 50 45
Fat Calories Per Serving 30 30 25 30 30
Percent Calories From Fat 75% 75% 71% 60% 67%
Carageenan x x x x
Vitamin A Palmitate x x x x x

Our conclusion?

  • These unsweetened almond beverages are all highly processed foods. They do contain almonds and water, but they also contain gum thickeners and unnecessary supplemental vitamins and minerals. Some contain "natural flavors", which are highly refined extracts of some natural food. (MSG is considered a natural flavoring.)

  • They are all high fat products. The lowest in fat is the Almond Dream at 60% calories from fat.

  • The Whole Foods brand is the only one that does not contain carageenan.

  • All contain vitamin A palmitate.

Maybe there are almond milks that are actually fat free and that meet our criteria. We were not able to locate one. Take your calculator to the store, read and analyze labels and look for a better product.

If you are not allergic to soy, here is the nutrition information on a good natural soy milk. It is 44% fat, which is better than any of these almond drinks. It is made of simple, wholesome ingredients.

Whatever milk substitute you decide on, use it sparingly. Put a little on your cereal in the morning, but don't use it as a beverage if you are trying to lose weight. Or you can save money and make your own milk from our easy rice milk recipe.

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