People prefer plant-based milks, such as almond milk, over cow's milk for a variety of reasons. These may include lactose intolerance, milk allergies, opting to go vegan, or simply a dislike for the taste of cow's milk. While almond milk generally contains much less protein than cow and soy milk, it's packed with essential nutrients and can provide you with numerous health benefits.
Almond milk is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. For example, it generally provides 45 percent of your calcium percent daily value, which is more than cow's milk. Almond milk is also rich in potassium and vitamins A, D, and E. Because almond milk is a plant-based product, it's free from saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and trans fat -- which is beneficial for your heart.
If you're concerned about the low protein content of almond milk, which contains about 1 gram of protein per cup, look for almond milk that's fortified with extra protein, or add a scoop of plant-based vegan protein powder, such as soy, pea or hemp protein powder, to your almond milk.
Healthy Weight Management
While almonds and other nuts are fairly high in calories, almond milk surprising is not -- containing fewer calories than even skim cow's milk. A cup of original almond milk often provides just 60 calories, compared with 130 calories in 1 cup of 2-percent cow's milk and 90 calories in a cup of skim milk. Light almond milk generally contains just 40 calories per cup. Because almond milk is low in calories but still fills you up, it can help you control your overall calorie intake to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
The calcium in almond milk may aid in weight control as well. A study published in 2010 in the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that increasing calcium (abundant in almond milk) in your diet appears to help reduce waist circumference and abdominal obesity when used as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
Reduced Disease Risks
Almond milk may help reduce your chronic disease risks, especially when used as part of a calorie-controlled, heart-healthy meal plan. The unsaturated fats in almond milk can reduce your risk for heart disease when consumed in place of saturated and trans fats. The study published in 2010 in the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that high-calcium diets seem to help lower blood pressure, especially when used in conjunction with reduced-calorie diets.
Another study published in 2011 in Nutrition and Cancer found that while cow's milk stimulated prostate cancer cell growth and soy milk increased growth rates of breast cancer cells, almond milk slowed the growth rate of prostate cancer cells by more than 30 percent -- which means that almond milk may help protect against certain forms of cancer when used in place of other milks.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.