Almond milk is a nutritious, nut-based drink that has become very popular over the years.

Almond milk is light in flavor, so many people find it more palatable than other plant-based milk options. It can be used as an alternative to dairy milk, so you may find it in coffee, oatmeal, or baking recipes.

You can make almond milk by soaking, grinding, and straining raw almonds. Commercial versions of almond milk might add nutrients, such as calcium, riboflavin, vitamin E, and vitamin D, to boost the drink’s nutritional content.

It’s great for those who cannot or choose not to drink cow’s milk (a dairy product), but many people drink it just because they like the taste.

This article takes a closer look at 11 evidence-based health benefits of almond milk and offers guidance on how to make your own.

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Almond milk has a variety of health-promoting nutrients.

The unflavored variety is relatively low in calories when compared with dairy milk or most other plant-based milk alternatives (1).

Nutrients in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of plain, unsweetened, almond milk include (2):

  • Calories: 15
  • Carbs: 0.3 grams
  • Fiber: 0.3 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Fat: 1.2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin E: 22% of the DV
  • Vitamin D: 9% of the DV
  • Potassium: 1% of the DV
  • Calcium: 17% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 4% of the DV

Since almond milk is often used as an alternative to dairy milk, most manufacturers will add vitamins and minerals to the final product so dairy-free consumers don’t miss out on valuable nutrients.

Fortified almond milk can be a great source of vitamins A, E, and D, as well as calcium.

Plant-based beverages generally contain fewer calories than regular dairy milk. For people aiming to reduce their calorie intake, switching to almond milk may support that goal (3).

Weight loss can often be achieved or supported by decreasing energy intake from food (4).

Making small swaps from high calorie foods to low calorie foods can be an effective way to decrease or maintain calorie intake, depending on your goals (4).

A review of 67 studies supports the idea that reducing energy intake from food may help with weight management (5).

However, many commercial varieties of almond milk are sweetened or flavored with added sugars, so they’re higher in calories. Different brands may add different amounts of sugar, so it is important to read the nutrition label and ingredient list if you’re concerned about it.

Additionally, unfiltered, homemade almond milk may have a greater quantity of almonds left, so it can also be higher in calories.

Unsweetened varieties of almond milk are naturally low in carbohydrates.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of almond milk contains approximately 0.3 grams of carbs, most of which is dietary fiber. In comparison, the same amount of dairy milk contains about 4.6 grams of carbs in the form of lactose, a type of natural sugar (2, 6).

Keep in mind that sweetened commercial varieties of almond milk and other plant milk can be much higher in carbs because they may contain added sugars.

Added sugars can be easily absorbed and can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels (7).

Some people with health conditions, such as those living with diabetes, may need to monitor the amount and quality of carbs in their diets.

One review of five studies evaluated the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on type 2 diabetes risk. According to the review, drinking a lot of SSBs is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (8).

Lower carb options, such as unsweetened almond milk, can make it easier to manage blood sugar levels.

In a study including 27,662 adults, switching SSBs with alternatives, such as tea or coffee without milk, was associated with an approximately 20% lower incidence of developing type 2 diabetes (9).

Almond milk is an excellent source of vitamin E, naturally containing 22% of the recommended daily vitamin E requirement in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion (2).

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may combat inflammation and stress in your body (10).

Antioxidants clean up excess molecules, called free radicals, that can cause damage to your cells. These free radicals can contribute to stress, inflammation, and the development of disease (11).

Evidence suggests that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E may also help decrease your cancer risk (12).

Vitamin E may also help protect against heart disease and cancer, and it may likewise benefit bone and eye health (13, 14, 15).

Additionally, vitamin E may play a role in improving the body’s ability to decrease body fat.

In one study, mice with poor ability to clear fat molecules in their blood took a vitamin E supplement for 8 weeks. Results showed a decrease in the buildup of fat deposits, reducing the mice’s risk of heart disease (16).

However, we need more human research to support these claims.

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for many aspects of health, including heart function, bone strength, and immune function (17).

Your body can produce vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, many people do not get enough vitamin D due to their skin color, lifestyle, long work hours, or simply living in an area where sunlight is limited.

In fact, vitamin D deficiency is the most common deficiency among adults in the United States (18).

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fertility issues, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases (18, 19, 20).

One study looked at the effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density (BMD) in 305 postmenopausal women. Some women took a vitamin D supplement of 1,000 IU per day for 1 year (21).

Results from the study noted an improvement in BMD among women with inadequate vitamin D blood levels compared with women who got enough vitamin D (21).

These results show us that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is important for your health. However, consuming more than the body needs may not offer any additional benefits.

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, though, so many commercial products — including almond milk — are fortified with it (22).

On average, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fortified almond milk can provide 5% of the DV of vitamin D (2).

Not all varieties of almond milk will have vitamin D added, however, including almond milk made at home. So, it may be worthwhile to seek other dietary sources of vitamin D if you are not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Dairy milk is a key source of calcium in many people’s diets. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of whole milk contains 123 milligrams (mg) of calcium — approximately 12% of the DV (6).

Because almond milk is most often used as a replacement for dairy milk, many manufacturers enrich it with calcium to ensure people are not missing out (23).

Enriched almond milk is a good source of calcium, containing 17% of the DV in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion (2).

Calcium is an important mineral with many health benefits, especially for youth and older adults (24, 25, 26).

It plays a role in the growth and maintenance of strong bones and healthy blood pressure levels. It may also help to reduce your risk of fractures and osteoporosis (24, 27).

Research found that a group of women 65 and older with BMD experienced accelerated bone formation after consuming calcium- and vitamin D-fortified yogurt for 84 days compared with a group who ate non-fortified yogurt (28).

If you are making almond milk yourself at home, you may need to find other sources of calcium to supplement your diet, such as cheese, yogurt, fish, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens.

Almond milk is naturally lactose-free, making it a great alternative for people who may have lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which people are unable to easily digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy milk. It is estimated to affect 65–70% of the global adult population (29).

It’s caused by a deficiency in lactase, the enzyme that’s responsible for breaking down lactose into a more digestible form. This deficiency may be caused by genetics, aging, or certain medical conditions (30).

Intolerance can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including stomach pain, bloating, and gas (30, 31).

Lactose intolerance is the least common in white people of European descent, affecting 5–17% of that population. However, in South America, Africa, and Asia, rates may be as high as 50–100% (31, 32, 33).

Since so many people experience lactose intolerance, plant-based alternatives like almond milk that are naturally lactose-free allow folks to safely enjoy foods that would otherwise contain dairy.

Some people choose to avoid dairy milk for religious, health, environmental, or lifestyle reasons, such as veganism (30).

Since almond milk is plant-based, it’s naturally dairy-free, which makes it vegan-friendly. It’s suitable for most people who want or need to limit dairy. However, it’s not a safe option for people with tree nut allergies.

As a dairy-free product, almond milk doesn’t have the proteins that contribute to a milk allergy. Between 0.5–3.5% of individuals live with that food allergy (34, 35).

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system is overactivated to protect itself from substances in the environment — many of which wouldn’t otherwise pose danger. Depending on the severity, an allergy can be life threatening (36).

Milk allergies also affect between 2–3% of infants and young children. However, almond milk may not be a suitable alternative for them, since it’s much lower in protein than dairy milk (37, 38).

You may need to check with a healthcare professional to find a specialized formula for babies with milk allergies.

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) often avoid milk due to its high levels of phosphorus and potassium. That’s because when your kidneys can’t properly clear these nutrients, there is a risk they will build up in the blood (39, 40, 41).

Having too much phosphorus in the blood may increase your risk of heart disease, hyperparathyroidism, and bone disease. Meanwhile, having too much potassium may increase the risk of irregular heart rhythm and heart attacks (39, 40, 41).

Dairy milk contains 101 mg of phosphorus and 150 mg of potassium per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), while the same amount of almond milk contains only 30 mg of phosphorus and 60 mg of potassium (2, 6).

Almond milk might be a good dairy alternative for people with CKD. However, the amounts of these nutrients may vary from brand to brand, so you’ll need to read the nutrition label.

In a small study, participants whose phosphate — a mineral that contains phosphorus — levels were kept low for 40 weeks had a 64% reduction in the secretion of a hormone called FGF23. That hormone contributes to the breakdown of bone and increases heart disease risk (42).

In another study, blood samples were collected from 911,698 adults with CKD, heart failure, or diabetes. After 18 months, researchers found that higher potassium levels of more than 5 mmol/L were associated with higher chances of all-cause mortality (41).

If you have kidney disease, your individual requirements and limits may vary depending on your stage of disease and current blood levels of potassium and phosphorus (43).

However, remember that many people don’t need to limit potassium and phosphorus, and most people do not consume enough potassium. It’s important to get enough of these essential nutrients in your diet.

Always speak to a healthcare professional before making any diet changes, since they may affect your health.

Dairy milk may contribute to the development of acne in adults and adolescents.

One study including 24,452 adults observed that regular dairy intake appeared to be associated with acne (44).

However, the link between dairy milk intake and acne is not well understood, and research is sometimes conflicting.

If you are concerned about acne, almond milk may offer a possible alternative that can help clear your skin. That’s because many varieties of almond milk are excellent sources of vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may help to clear cell-damaging free radicals in the body, which may damage your skin (45).

Free radicals are unavoidable molecules that can result from normal processes in your body as well as your environment, such as cigarette smoke and air pollutants (45).

In a study, 36 females ages 35 years and over consumed a drink containing collagen and vitamins, including 2.3 mg of vitamin E, for 12 weeks. Results showed improvements in skin hydration, elasticity, and density compared with a group that did not consume the drink (46).

These results suggest that vitamin E may play a role in skin health. However, the effects cannot be attributed to vitamin E alone. Therefore, consuming a healthful, balanced diet that also contains vitamin E may help to promote healthy skin.

Almond milk is a plant-based food. Including it in your diet can help you increase your intake of plant-based foods, which may help keep your heart healthy.

Some folks promote plant-based diets for their potential role in reducing the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (47).

In a New Zealand study, 65 adults were separated into two groups. The intervention group followed a low fat, whole-food, plant-based diet, and the control group continued eating their usual diet (48).

Results from the study showed a reduction in total cholesterol and a decrease in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) after 12 weeks in the whole-food, plant-based group compared with the control group (48).

HbA1c binds to red blood cells. HbA1c measurements provide a guide to the level of blood sugar control over a couple of months (49).

Improved HbA1c and cholesterol levels can lower your chance of developing heart disease (50).

Summary

Almond milk is a vegan-friendly, dairy-free beverage that has been growing in popularity over the years. A versatile healthy alternative to dairy milk, fortified versions can be good sources of vitamins A, D, and E, as well as calcium.

To make 2 cups (473 mL) of almond milk at home, you need just 2 ingredients: almonds and water. You’ll also need a nut milk bag and a blender.

First, soak 1/2 cup (65 grams) of raw almonds overnight. In a blender, add the soaked almonds with 2 cups (473 mL) of water and blend until the mixture is milky and creamy.

Pour the mixture in a nut milk bag and strain over a large jug or bowl. Squeeze out any excess moisture, until most of the milk is separated from the pulp.

You can make your almond milk thicker or thinner by adjusting the quantity of water.

You may want to add a pinch of salt or a drizzle of honey to enhance the flavor.

The milk can be kept for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Summary

Almond milk can be made with two simple ingredients: almonds and water. Blend until creamy and strain the liquid to have fresh homemade almond milk.

Almond milk is a quite versatile beverage that can easily be used as a substitute for dairy milk.

Below are some ideas on how to include it in your diet:

  • as a nutritious, refreshing drink
  • in cereal, muesli, or oats
  • in your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate
  • in smoothies
  • in cooking and baking, such as in recipes for muffins or pancakes
  • in soups, sauces, or dressings
  • in homemade ice cream
  • in homemade almond yogurt
Summary

You can drink almond milk on its own, add it to cereals and coffee, or use it in a variety of recipes for cooking and baking.

Almond milk is a tasty, nutritious alternative to dairy milk that has grown in popularity over the years. It may also promote skin and heart health.

Many commercial varieties of almond milk have been fortified with nutrients, such as calcium and vitamins A, E, and D. Fortification helps people that switch from dairy milk to almond milk get all the vital nutrients that milk usually provides.

Additionally, almond milk is suitable for most people with lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy, or kidney disease, as well as those who are vegan or avoiding dairy for other reasons.

Try adding it to cereal or coffee, mixing it into smoothies, and using it in recipes for ice cream, soups, or sauces.

Just one thing

Try this today: Don’t know what to do with the leftover pulp from making almond milk at home? Why not use it to make chocolate chip and almond cookies — and dip them into a tall glass of almond milk!