Know your nut milks and your health. Adding nut milk to your diet can add a number of health benefits.
Especially for those who are Vegan or lactose-intolerant, nut milks are a way for you to maintain your health. Have you ever casually strolled the dairy section of the grocery store and found that the attention is no longer focused only on dairy products? We’ve all seen this. It looks like non-dairy milks are beginning to overpower this section with a large array of plant-based milks: cashew, oat, pea, soy, hemp, hazelnut, coconut, almond, rice, and many more. The nutritional properties of nut milks or plant-based milks depend on the plant source, fortification, and processing. And, at its most basic, it is rich in minerals, healthy fats, vitamins, and protein. Enriched plant milks are a great alternative to milk from cows. Here are a few tips to help your shopping spree decisions:
- Generally, unsweetened is the healthier option as it contains less added sugars; therefore, it will not spike blood sugar levels.
- It’s important to buy plant-based milk from the section that is refrigerated; the plant-based milks that are shelf stable typically have artificial ingredients and many more preservatives to increase shelf life.
- If you have the time and ingredients, make your own nut milk. They tend to have many more major health benefits and are fresher than store bought.
This is the perfect substitute for dairy milk especially for those who lean towards thinner liquid consistency. Many well-known (unsweetened) coconut milk brands do not add sugar and are a great vitamin D source. Although coconut milk contains fat, it is primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids which is considered healthy fat (MCFAs). These fats can assist the body in revving up metabolism and giving your body a boost of energy. Therefore, this can help your body burn more calories, which, in turn, aids in weight loss.
This nutritious nut milk stands out amongst the rest. Made by blending or grinding almonds together with water and straining the solids, it creates a creamy liquid texture and a delicious nutty flavor with less than half the calories of regular cow’s milk. Almond milk is rich in healthy vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium, B12, and vitamin D, is low in saturated fat, contains no cholesterol, and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Extra nutrients such as riboflavin, vitamin E, and many others are added to boost its nutritional content, and yes, it aids in weight loss.
Rich in protein and easy to make at home, the creamy cashew texture creates a thicker liquid and contains a variety of nutritional benefits. Cashew milk is enriched with two fatty acids (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids) and is fortified with high amounts of vitamin D, B12, calcium, and various other nutrients giving your body the extra boost of protein it needs. According to various health research studies, cashew milk has been known to lower the risk of heart disease. This plant-based milk contains nutrients such as magnesium and potassium that contribute to the body’s heart health.
Frothy, full-bodied, and full of protein, oat milk has risen to the surface. It is fully enriched with nutrients such as potassium, iron, and calcium, benefiting bone health. Not only is it delicious and versatile, but it also contains high sources of vitamin D as well as vitamin A and promotes heart health due to its soluble fiber known as beta-glucans. Actually, oat milk is top of the list of all milk products for heart-healthy fiber. It’s unique and does not contain many allergens and intolerances that other milks tend to have. Oat milk is naturally free of soy, nuts, lactose, and gluten (when made from certified gluten-free oats). Although slightly higher in calories, the nutritional content of oat milk should be reason enough to add to your grocery cart.
Enriched with antioxidants that help rid your body of harmful free radicals and jam-packed full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, another healthy, vegan alternative to milk is hemp milk. It provides your body a source of complete protein. Hemp = Healthy and it’s simply made from ground hemp seeds dissolved in water. It’s just that simple. Hemp milk promotes a healthy immune system and a healthy heart, along with healthy skin, hair, nails, and more. Many of the vitamins hemp milk contains assist in reducing the oxidative stress placed on the body that generally leads to inflammation, wrinkles, hair loss, etc. The high levels of omegas 3 and 6 lead to improved cognitive function and bolsters calcium along with various levels of potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Each nut milk has its individual perks, nutritional benefits, and textures, and there are a number of ways to add them into your diet such as adding it in your baking recipes, to your morning breakfast of cereal, oats, muesli, or yogurt, as a simply healthy nutritious drink--plain, in your teas, coffees, and chocolate milks, in smoothies, soups, sauces, dressings, in homemade yogurt, homemade nice cream, and the never-ending list continues. Above is just a small handful of the large variety of plant based milks on the market. These plant-based milks continue to spike in popularity as more and more people are beginning to reduce, if not eliminate all animal products from their diet.