The Real Scoop on Almond Milk

almond-milkAlmond milk is the drink that’s reportedly leading the growing market in dairy alternatives, beating out such competition as soy and rice milk in the growth of market share.

A single ounce of almonds contains six grams of protein, about  the same as an egg. That ounce of almonds also has three grams of fiber, the same as a medium banana, and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, equivalent to half an avocado.

According to its label, an eight-ounce serving of almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fiber, and five grams of fat. A 48 ounce container of almond milk delivers six eight-ounce servings, meaning that a handful of almonds contains as much protein as the entire jug of this hot-selling beverage.

This tells us that the almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water containing a handful of ground almonds. This leads us to the question of price and profit. The average price for a pound of organic almonds sold in bulk is around $11.99. A one-ounce serving costs about 66 cents. If you buy nonorganic California almonds, they sell for about $6.49 per pound, about 39 cents per ounce. That container of almond milk, which contains roughly one ounce of nonorganic almonds, retails for $3.99. Quite a mark up for water and an ounce of nut powder.

It’s not necessarily healthier than conventional milk, either.

Almond milk is mostly just a waste of good food; food that demands an unusually high amount of water to grow. Seeing as how 80 percent of the global harvest comes from drought-stricken California, that has the potential to become a problem.

Other milks have problems of their own, of course: soy milk’s been tied to certain hormone-related health issues, which could be one of the reasons, analysts  say, that people are switching over to almond milk. And plain old milk, a no-go for people with lactose intolerance, puts a strain on the environment as well. Dairy cows produce a  considerable amount of the greenhouse gas methane that escapes into the atmosphere, and also consume huge amounts of water per gallon of milk they produce.

I conclude that almond milk is a product with little food value sold at a much higher price than the ingredients indicate it should demand in the market place. You could eat an ounce of almonds and drink a glass of water and get six times the nutrition at a fraction of the price. But if you prefer to use water make murky by a little almond dust it’s not going to hurt anything but your wallet in the end.

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