HOW many times have you gone to the office fridge to make a cuppa, and been overwhelmed by the number of milk options on offer?
The News.com.au office fridge currently stocks seven varieties of milk — there’s full fat, no fat, low fat, rice milk, soy milk, organic almond milk and a dubious-looking product called ‘Almond Supreme’.
Our team has a wide range of dietary needs — including a vegan, a few vegetarians, several people who are lactose intolerant — and one reporter who has Fruit Loops for breakfast every day.
We have a few hipster foodies among us who are always keen to try out the latest food trend, and almond milk is the current flavour of the month.
The paleo movement (which is dairy-free) has encouraged many people to stop drinking cow’s milk and many cafes now offer almond milk, alongside rice and soy, as an alternative.
But is almond milk all it’s cracked up to be?
Don’t believe all the marketing hype, says senior nutritionist at Nutrition Australia Queensland, Aloysa Hourigan.
“Almond milk, like oat milk and rice milk has become very trendy,” Ms Hourigan said.
“There’s no doubt that it can provide some nutrition, but whether it’s better than normal milk is a whole other question.”
Ms Hourigan says cow’s milk is the most nutritious type of milk, which you can still drink if you’re lactose intolerant — just choose the lactose-free option. Almond milk doesn’t contain as much protein or calcium.
“You don’t need to drink nut milks or soy milk,” she said.
If you’re a vegan, or you really don’t want to consume dairy, soy milk is the “most nutritionally complete” option, with the highest protein content.
Almond milk can contain high levels of added sugar, so always read the ingredients label carefully, says Ms Hourigan.
“The ingredients should contain water, almonds and very little else. If sugar is listed high in the ingredients list, I’d be concerned about the amount of added sugar.
“In cow’s milk there’s sugar from the lactose, but there’s no added sugar.”
The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage us to consume two serves of dairy a day.
“If you are dairy or lactose intolerant you want to find an alternate source of calcium-rich foods and look for those that give you the most nutritional value,” Ms Hourigan said.
Whole almonds are nutritional powerhouses — a complete protein, full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. So it’s unsurprising many people believe almond milk has those same nutritional benefits.
But according to MotherJones.com, that’s not true.
Journalist Tom Philpott compared the nutritional content of whole almonds and almond milk.
He found a single 28g serve of almonds contains 6g of protein (about an egg’s worth), 3g of fibre (a medium banana) and 12g of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (half an avocado).
The same serving of almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fibre, and 5g of fat.
So a handful of almonds contains as much protein as a 1L of almond milk.
The lesson? Drink cow’s milk if you can and stick to soy if you can’t.