Too Good to Be Food: Blue Diamond Almond Milk
Posted on Feb 16th 2011 2:00PM by Keri Glassman
Blue Diamond Almond MilkAmazon.com
There are no two ways about it. Cow’s milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which you need to absorb calcium, protein and potassium. But if you’re lactose intolerant, vegan or have dairy allergies, milk suddenly becomes way more trouble than it’s worth — or simply off-limits. Thankfully, milk alternatives abound. Move over soy milk, because almond milk might just be a healthier and tastier competitor. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s examine exactly what’s in this one.
What’s in It:
Purified water, evaporated cane juice, almonds, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, soy lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E)
The first ingredient is purified water. Exactly like it sounds, purified water is basically tap water, purified through a system to get rid of any impurities. Next, we have evaporated cane juice. The only difference between regular sugar and evaporated cane juice is that the cane juice is less refined than regular sugar. I’m going to have to veto this ingredient. It’s an added sugar and doesn’t need to be in milk — substitute or not.
At last, we get to the almonds. Almonds are rich in taste and incredibly satisfying due to their healthy fats and protein. The “healthy” fat, a.k.a. monounsaturated fat, found in almonds is known to lower LDL levels in the blood. They also help increase HDL, or “good cholesterol” levels, making them a heart-healthy snack that contain many antioxidants. In a nutshell (couldn’t help myself there!), almonds are nutrient dense and keep you satisfied and full. Thumbs-up for the base of this “milk.”
Next up, we have tricalcium phosphate. Sounds like a scary, multi-syllabic chemical, but rest assured: Tricalcium phosphate is calcium in its salt form added as an anti-caking agent and acidity regulator. It’s also used to increase the calcium content of almond milk, which, unlike cow’s milk, is not a natural source of calcium.
Then we have sea salt. The chemical makeup of sea salt and regular table salt is the same, namely sodium and chloride, but unlike table salt, sea salt retains minerals and elements naturally found in the sea.
The following ingredient is potassium citrate. Generally, you need potassium for proper muscle work. Your heart muscle, your intestines and your skeletal muscles all need this nutrient to function. In this case, potassium citrate is used as an acidity regulator, containing a small enough amount to ensure good taste without giving you a toxic dose.
Next up: Carrageenan. Another scary-sounding word that you need not fear. Carrageenan is a natural seaweed extract found in the ocean. It’s used as a thickener and emulsifier, which basically keeps almond milk looking like milk.
Finally, we come to soy lecithin, a food additive used as an emulsifier to hold everything together. While naturally derived, soy lecithin is still an added, processed ingredient not found in regular cow’s milk. Lastly, we have the added vitamins: vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, and d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E). These are all added fat-soluble vitamins that give this almond milk a healthy boost.
Vitamin A palmitate is added to make almond milk nutritionally similar to regular cow’s milk. Like vitamin A, vitamin D2 is added to almond milk (and regular milk) to mimic the nutritional makeup of cow’s milk. Since the natural source of vitamin D is the sun, most of us need the added form. Your body uses vitamin D to make cholesterol, which is essential to all cell membranes and not to be confused with “bad cholesterol” in the diet. D-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E) is a bioavailable form of vitamin E that acts as a natural antioxidant, combating the effects of free radicals. It’s also important in the formation of red blood cells and to help the body use vitamin K. A totally worthwhile addition to almond milk!
Almond milk is an alternative to cow’s milk that has a similar nutrient profile (thanks to the fortification). Almond milk provides less protein and calcium than skim cow’s milk, but it also contains less calories and sugar. If you have lifestyle needs that make milk not an option for you, plain almond milk is an excellent one. For those of you who do not need to stay away from cow’s milk, almond is simply a healthy food to add to your diet. The best option for almond milk for those of you who want to do a little bit of work, make your own! All you need are raw almonds, water, a blender and a strainer. Soak or blanch the almonds to remove the skin, put them in your blender with the water and strain. Easy as one, two, three, and entirely free of any added ingredients. And it tastes amazing in a cup of java!
[1 cup, 8 fl oz]
Sat Fat: 0g
Trans Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrate: 8g