Pros and Cons | Dairy vs. Almond Milk

Almonds with almond milk. | Image by LookerStudio, Shutterstock

Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy milk in recent years for various reasons. But how does almond milk compare nutritionally to cow’s milk?

Obviously, the two beverages are very different: Dairy milk is the “lacteal secretion” of cows, as the FDA describes it, while almond milk is manufactured from ground-up, filtered almonds mixed with water. Most commercially produced almond milk products also contain additives such as emulsifiers, preservatives, and stabilizers.

Dairy milk is a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein, phosphorus, riboflavin, Vitamins A, D, and B-12, zinc, selenium, and choline. Guidelines from the federal government recommend that children and adults consume two to three cups of dairy daily.

However, there is no recommended daily amount for plant-based milks such as almond milk. Almond milk contains a mixture of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from the almond tree and is an excellent source of vitamin E. In addition, it also contains calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Unsweetened almond milk is lower in calories than cow’s milk.

Almond milk is a good alternative to dairy milk for those who are allergic to the latter or who are lactose intolerant. And, since almond milk is lower in calories than dairy, it can be helpful for people trying to limit their calorie intake and assist in weight management.

Calories 40 calories 122 calories
Protein 1.0 grams 8.1 grams
Fat 3.0 grams 4.8 grams
Carbohydrate 2.0 grams 12.3 grams
Fiber 1.0 grams 0.0 grams
Sugar  0.4 grams 12.3 grams

Some who choose not to consume animal products for ethical reasons or who must limit their intake of animal fats for health reasons may also find almond milk a suitable alternative.

While almond milk offers numerous benefits, it is important to consider the drawbacks associated with this plant-based beverage:

Some almond milk products contain higher levels of added sugar compared to regular milk. It is important to review product labels and check for sugar content, especially for individuals concerned about their sugar intake. Avoiding products with hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, and flavorings is usually best.

The production of almond milk also requires a significant amount of water, making it less environmentally friendly in this regard than traditional dairy milk. However, livestock such as dairy cows are considered contributors to the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas associated with global warming. This consideration is relevant for those who prioritize sustainability and conservation efforts.

Almond milk tends to be more expensive than cow’s milk due to the resources and processes involved in its production. This higher cost may deter individuals on a tight budget from regularly incorporating almond milk into their diets.

Another popular plant-based milk gaining traction is oat milk. Oat milk is considered more environmentally friendly than almond milk because it requires less water to produce.

Oat milk generally contains more calories, fat, and carbohydrates than almond milk. These variances should be considered by individuals monitoring their macronutrient intake. However, some argue that oat milk offers a creamier taste, providing a pleasant alternative for those seeking a richer texture.

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