Almond milk facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Almond milk
Home-made almond milk, November 2012.jpg
Food energy
(per 100 g serving)
15 kcal (63 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per 100 g serving)
Protein 0.59 g
Fat 1.10 g
Carbohydrate 0.58 g

Almond milk is a plant milk manufactured from almonds with a creamy texture and nutty flavor, although some types or brands are flavored in imitation of dairy milk. It does not contain cholesterol, saturated fat or lactose, and is often consumed by those who are lactose-intolerant and others, such as vegans who avoid dairy products.

Commercial almond milk comes in sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate flavors, and is usually fortified with micronutrients. It can also be made at home using a blender, almonds and water.

Sales of almond milk overtook soy milk in the United States in 2013, and by May 2014, it comprised two-thirds of the US plant milk market. In the United Kingdom, almond milk sales increased from 36 million litres (7.9 million imperial gallons; 9.5 million US gallons) in 2011 to 92 million litres (20 million imperial gallons; 24 million US gallons) in 2013.

History

In the Middle Ages, almond milk was known in both the Islamic world and Christendom. As a nut, almonds are permitted for consumption by these religions during fasting seasons, such as Lent and Ramadan. Historian Carolyn Walker Bynum notes that "Medieval cookbooks suggest that the aristocracy observed fasting strictly, if legalistically. Meat-day and fish-day recipes were not separated in medieval recipe collections, as they were in later, better-organized cookbooks. But the most basic dishes were given in fast-day as well as ordinary-day versions. For example, a thin split-pea puree, sometimes enriched with fish stock or almond milk (produced by simmering ground almonds in water), replaced meat broth on fast days; and almond milk was a general (and expensive) substitute for cow's milk." In Persian cuisine, an almond milk based dessert called harireh badam (almond gruel) is traditionally served during Ramadan.

Commerce

In the United States, almond milk remained a 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. As of 2014 it comprised 60 percent of plant-milk sales and 4.1 percent of total milk sales in the US.

Nutrition

Nutritional content of cows', soy and almond milk
Cows' milk
(whole, vitamin D added)
Soy milk
(unsweetened;
calcium, vitamins A, B12 and D added)
Almond milk
(unsweetened)
Calories (cup, 243 g) 149 80 39
Protein (g) 7.69 6.95 1.55
Fat (g) 7.93 3.91 2.88
Saturated fat (g) 4.55 0.5 0
Carbohydrate (g) 11.71 4.23 1.52
Fibre (g) 0 1.2 0
Sugars (g) 12.32 1 0
Calcium (mg) 276 301 516
Potassium (mg) 322 292 176
Sodium (mg) 105 90 186
Vitamin B12 (µg) 1.10 2.70 0
Vitamin A (IU) 395 503 372
Vitamin D (IU) 124 119 110
Cholesterol (mg) 24 0 0

If unfortified, almond milk has less vitamin D than fortified cows' milk; in North America cows' milk must be fortified with vitamin D, but vitamins are added to plant milks on a voluntary basis.

Because of its low protein content, almond milk is not a suitable replacement for breast milk, cows' milk, or hydrolyzed formulas for children under two years of age.

Production

The basic method of modern domestic almond milk production is to grind almonds in a blender with water, then strain out the almond pulp (flesh) with a strainer or cheesecloth. Almond milk can also be made by adding water to almond butter.

Consumer demand

The growth in consumer demand for almond milk in the early 21st century accounted for one-quarter of the US almond supply, and its use in almond butter manufacturing tripled since 2011.

Sustainability

Almond production in California is concentrated mainly in the Central Valley, where the mild climate, rich soil, abundant sunshine and water supply make for ideal growing conditions.

Due to the persistent droughts in California in the early 21st century, it became more difficult to raise almonds in a sustainable manner. The issue is complex because of the high amount of water needed to produce almonds: a single almond requires roughly 1.1 US gallons (0.92 imperial gallons; 4.2 litres) of water to grow properly.

Sustainability strategies implemented by the Almond Board of California and almond farmers include:

  • tree and soil health, and other farming practices
  • minimizing dust production during the harvest
  • bee health
  • irrigation guidelines for farmers
  • food safety
  • use of waste biomass as coproducts with a goal to achieve zero waste
  • use of solar energy during processing
  • job development
  • support of scientific research to investigate potential health benefits of consuming almonds
  • international education about sustainability practices

Almond milk Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.