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Almond Milk vs. Rice Milk: Which Is Better for You?

Rice milk is a popular milk substitute made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. Almond milk is made by mixing finely ground almonds with water, and then straining the solution to remove skins and chunks of nut flesh. While both rice milk and almond milk make acceptable milk substitutes for vegans, vegetarians and those with lactose intolerance, casein or gluten allergies, there's a world of difference between these two milk substitutes. Read on to find out which is better for you.

Facts about Rice Milk

Rice milk is a milk substitute made by blending boiled rice and water. Manufacturers may then strain the mixture to remove sediment. Rice milk contains little calcium, little protein and no vitamins, so most manufacturers fortify it with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D to make its nutritional content more like that of cow's milk. 

Facts About Almond Milk

Almond milk is a milk substitute made from finely ground almonds and water. Almond milk is also strained to remove skins and sediment.

Almond milk has been in use since the Middle Ages, when it was used in cooking as a substitute for cow's milk. Almond milk stores well, so medieval cooks used it instead of cow's milk, which spoils rapidly without refrigeration and had to be immediately processed into butter or cheese for storage.

Which is Better?

Rice milk has little nutritional value, though if fortified with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D it can be acceptably used as a milk substitute. However, rice milk doesn't have as much protein as cow's milk, so those who use rice milk instead of cow's milk should plan to get more protein from other dietary sources.

Rice milk contains no animal products, so it's appropriate for vegans and vegetarians. Because rice milk contains no lactose, it can be safely consumed by those who are actose intolerant. Rice milk is also very low in calories and fat; it contains just three grams of fat per serving and about 140 calories per serving.

Almond milk, unlike rice milk, contains a range of essential vitamins and minerals. Almond milk contains magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, fiber, iron, zinc, phosphorous, calcium and vitamin E. Because of the high levels of vitamins and minerals that occur naturally in almonds and almond milk, manufacturers see little need to fortify the beverage.

Almond milk's higher nutritional value means that it has more health benefits than rice milk. The high levels of antioxidant vitamin E in almond milk make it effective in the prevention of cancer and can slow the signs of aging. Because almond milk is lactose and casein free, it's appropriate for the lactose intolerant and those with gluten allergies. Vegans and vegetarians like that almond milk doesn't contain animal products.

Almond milk is even lower than rice milk in calories, at just 40 calories per serving, but contains about the same amount of fat, three grams per serving. Because almond milk is low in calories and fat and high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it's a healthier alternative than rice milk.

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