A cold glass of milk goes well with cookies, a sandwich or on its own. If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, or just don’t like the way commercial dairies operate, you do have an alternative — nut milk. Readily available, nut milks offer many of the nutritional benefits of cow’s milk and have some additional advantages of their own.
How to Milk a Nut
Nut milks are made by grinding nuts and adding water. In most cases, the skins of the nuts are blanched and removed, to give a creamy white appearance. They can be used in the same ways regular milk is used. And unlike dairy substitutes or other non-dairy beverages, they don’t contain chemicals and may not contain preservatives. Almonds, cashews and hazelnuts are often used for nut milks, but any kind of nut can be turned into milk.
Nutritional Benefits of Nut Milks
The nutritional benefits of nut milks depend on the type of nut. For example, almonds are rich in manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium, as well as vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. Hazelnuts offer similar nutritional benefits, although they are a bit lower in vitamin E. Cashews are a particularly good source of copper, while almonds are a very good source of magnesium. All of these are also relatively high in protein, although not as high as cow’s milk. Nuts are high in heart-healthy mono-saturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids. Your body needs these healthy fats, especially your brain and nervous system. Nuts also include boron, a trace mineral that is believed to help prevent prostate cancer.
What nuts don’t have is saturated fat. Nor do they contain lactose, which is very good news if you’re lactose intolerant. Nuts are not an animal product, which is very important to vegans. Although nut milk is lower in protein than cow’s milk, it’s also about 50 percent lower in calories; a boon to those who want to lose weight. Nut milks are also lower in calcium, but most are calcium-fortified. Some may also have added sugar or flavorings like chocolate.
Other Nutritional Issues
Conventional cow’s milk often contains trace amounts of the antibiotics used to keep the cows from getting infections; that’s not a problem with nut milks, which are antibiotic-free. Nut milk is naturally low in sodium, for those who must restrict their sodium intake. Plain nut milks have a low glycemic index. That means they have a minimal impact on your blood sugar – very important for diabetics or those who suffer from hypoglycemia. Unlike cow’s milk, which must be refrigerated, nut milks are shelf-stable until opened. If you find a great buy, you can stock up.
As far as taste, no nut milk tastes exactly like cow’s milk. Each has a taste all its own. Some people say unsweetened almond milk still tastes a little sweet, while cashew nut milk tastes a little — well, nutty. Nut milk in general does have a light, refreshing taste, especially when well-chilled. Many people prefer nut milks on their own, while others add them to smoothies or flavor them with chocolate or vanilla. Nut milks can be used in coffee, on cereal or in most recipes. So try some today, especially if you’ve been avoiding regular milk for health reasons.