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Almond milk is slightly beige in colour and has a creamy texture and nutty taste. It can be made at home by grinding almonds with water, or it can be purchased with increasing availability. Unlike animal milk, almond milk has neither cholesterol nor lactose and being a plant food, it is often consumed by vegans, vegetarians, and others forgoing dairy. Commercial almond milk often comes in plain, vanilla, or chocolate flavors and is sometimes enriched with vitamins.
In the Middle Ages, almond milk was known in both the Islamic world and Christendom. As a nut (the "fruit of a plant"), it is suitable for consumption during Lent. Almond milk was a staple of medieval kitchens because cow's milk could not keep for long without spoiling.
Historically, almond milk was also called amygdalate after the Latin name for the almond. It was consumed over a region extending from the Iberian Peninsula to East Asia. Le Viandier, a 14th-century recipe collection, contains a recipe for almond milk and recommends its use as a substitute for animal milk during fast days.
In the United States, almond milk remained a fairly niche health food item until the early 2000s, when its popularity began to increase. In 2011 alone, almond milk sales increased by 79%. In 2013, it surpassed soy milk as the most popular plant-based milk in the U.S. Popular brands of almond milk include Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze and WhiteWave Foods' Silk PureAlmond.
Almonds are rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus, tryptophan, copper, and calcium. "The UK Institute of Food Research found finely ground almonds contain potential probiotic properties that could help boost digestive health by increasing the levels of certain beneficial bacteria in the stomach".
Almond milk has less protein than cow's milk and other animal milk substances. For children with atopic dermatitis under two years of age, almond milk is not a suitable replacement for breast milk, cow's milk, or hydrolyzed formulas due to the low protein.
Almond milk is a very popular alternative for those who do not drink dairy milk. However, it is important to note that it contains less protein and calcium than normal milk, and thus cannot be considered a complete substitute for dairy-milk. Therefore, one who consumes almond milk instead of dairy milk must ensure that they are supplementing extra calcium and protein to their diets. Besides this, here is a list of health benefits of switching to almond milk:
1. Fewer calories - almond milk contains 60 calories per cup, whereas 2 percent milk contains 122 calories per cup
2. Good for your heart - almond milk contains no cholesterol or saturated fat. It is also low in sodium and high in healthy fats which can prevent high blood pressure and heart disease
3. Strong bones - it contains 30 percent of recommended amount of calcium, and 25 percent of recommended amount of vitamin D, which together helps reduce risk of arthritis and osteoporosis
4. Benefits to your skin - almond milk contains 50 percent of recommended daily amount of Vitamin E, which is good for your skin
5. Reduce risk for Type II diabetes - almond milk is low in carbs, which means that it will not increase your blood sugar levels, which reduces your risk for Type II diabetes.
6. Strong muscles - almond milk contains lots of vitamin B such as iron and riboflavin, which are good for strong muscles
7. High in fiber - contains almost 1g of fiber per serving, which helps with digestion
Carrageenan is an additive derived from seaweed and is used as a stabilizer and thickener in almond milk. Although it is considered safe by the FDA, some scientists have raised questions about the potentially harmful effects of widespread carrageenan consumption. There is no question that carrageenan itself is safe for consumption, but one of its chemical derivatives, poligeenan (referred to as "degraded carrageenan" in older literature) is a known carcinogen and is not approved as a food additive. The argument over the safety of carrageenan consumption hinges on the claim that carrageenan in food is converted into poligeenan at significant levels in foods or during digestion. Other scientists have concluded that carrageenan is not converted to poligeenan to any significant extent in the gastrointestinal tract. Carrageenan is commonly used to induce inflammation in animal tissues by direct injection; degraded carrageenan (poligeenan) has been shown to cause ulceration in the intestine, but this effect has not been demonstrated with carrageenan itself.
The basic method of modern domestic almond milk production is to grind soaked almonds in a blender with water and honey (or any other sweetener), then strain out the almond pulp (flesh) with a strainer, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag. Almond milk can also be made by adding water and sweeteners to almond butter.
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- Make your own DIY Almond Milk in Two Minutes