Why is almond milk called milk?
This brief guide will answer the question, “why is almond milk called milk,” and discusses why is the dairy industry boiling over plant-based milk, and should non-dairy beverages be called milk.
Why is almond milk called milk?
Almond milk, a popular plant-derived “milk” substitute, is called almond milk because its liquid state and white color closely resemble the visual qualities of cow’s milk.
Plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk, are created by breaking down plant materials like cereals, pseudo-cereals, legumes, oilseeds, and nuts.
These ingredients are extracted in water and undergo a process of homogenization, resulting in a particle size distribution that ranges from 5 to 20 μm. This careful treatment produces a fluid that closely resembles the appearance and consistency of cow’s milk. (1)
Should non-dairy beverages be called milk?
The FDA advises that plant-based milk alternative (PBMA) products, such as “soy milk” or “almond milk,” which bear the term “milk” in their names but have a different nutrient composition than dairy milk, should include a voluntary nutrient statement.
This statement would inform consumers about how the product compares to milk based on the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) fluid milk substitutes nutrient criteria.
By providing these statements, consumers can make informed dietary choices and understand the specific nutritional differences between plant-based products labeled as “milk” and dairy milk.
However, if a PBMA is labeled with terms like “beverage” or “drink” instead of “milk” and does not make any claims comparing it to milk, the voluntary nutrient statement recommendations mentioned in the draft guidance do not apply. (2)
What elements make plant-based milks good for your health?
The health benefits of plant-based milks vary depending on their composition. The advantages of choosing plant-based milk are numerous. It is low in harmful fats while being high in healthy fats, specifically mono and polyunsaturated fats.
It provides a balanced dosage of salt and potassium. Plant-based milk also serves as an ally against constipation and bad cholesterol due to its beneficial properties. Additionally, it has a low glycemic index, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
In addition to its nutritional value, plant-based milk offers a variety of tastes due to being made from a range of grains, oilseeds, fruits, and tubers. These milk alternatives are high in minerals and vitamins, supporting the healthy functioning of the body, particularly for individuals with digestive or viral issues. (3)
Almonds are packed with essential components, including proteins, lipids (fats), soluble sugars, minerals, and fibers.
Lipids are the primary constituent, making up approximately 35 to 52% of the almond’s composition, while proteins account for around 22 to 25%. Almond lipids predominantly consist of unsaturated fatty acids, which are considered healthier fats.
The proteins found in almonds are rich in essential amino acids, playing crucial roles in various bodily functions. Alongside proteins and lipids, almonds provide a diverse range of nutrients.
They are abundant in calcium, magnesium, selenium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and copper, all of which are vital for maintaining overall health. (4)
What are the health benefits of drinking almond milk?
Almond milk brings forth a range of health benefits, especially in terms of enhancing blood lipid profiles and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The consumption of almonds is also linked to promoting healthy digestion, preventing anemia, reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, and offering protection against free radicals.
Notably, almonds are renowned for their high content of vitamin E and other antioxidants, which play a vital role in maintaining good health. Almond milk contains valuable bioactive compounds like flavonoids, vitamin E, and polyamines, all of which possess antioxidant properties.
Furthermore, almond milk provides dietary fibers and phytosterols, both contributing to its overall health-promoting properties. (4, 5)
Does almond milk have any dairy at all?
No, almond milk is not classified as dairy, nor does it contain any dairy components. It is solely derived from almonds. Almond milk does not contain lactose and is cholesterol-free, as these components are exclusively found in animal-based products. (4)
Is almond milk alternative well accepted?
Yes. Traditionally, almond beverages have been enjoyed for their delightful flavor and taste. However, in recent years, almond milk has emerged as one of the most favored plant-based milk alternatives.
Studies examining almond milk have indicated that its consumption can be an effective solution for children with allergies or intolerance to animal milk. In some instances, almond milk has been found to be even more beneficial than commonly used alternatives such as soy-based meals and protein hydrolysate formula. (5)
In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “why is almond milk called milk”, and other questions related to the subject, such as why is the dairy industry boiling over plant-based milk, and should non-dairy beverages be called milk.
- Sethi S, Tyagi SK, Anurag RK. Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review. J Food Sci Technol; 53 (9): 3408-3423. 2016.
- CFSAN Constituent Updates; FDA Reopens Comment Period for the Draft Guidance on Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives. FDA/food. Food and Drug Administration Website. https://www.fda.gov/food. 2023.
- Reyes-Jurado, F., et. al. Plant-Based Milk Alternatives: Types, Processes, Benefits, and Characteristics. Food Reviews International, 1–32, 2021
- Silva, A. R. A., Silva, M. M. N., & Ribeiro, B. D. Health Issues and Technological Aspects of Plant-based Alternative Milk. Food Research International, 108972. 2020.
- Vanga SK, Raghavan V. How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk? J Food Sci Technol. 55(1): 10-20. 2018.