ASK THE EXPERT
Q I’ve heard a lot lately about plant-based milks, especially almond milk. Should I make the switch to them? Melanie, via email
Your question is a timely one, given the popularity lately of plant-based milks. Made from ground almonds, almond milk is low in carbs, protein and kilojoules, and has a pleasant nutty flavour that makes a nice milky coffee (think almond latte).
If unsweetened, it can be used as a substitute for regular milk in many recipes. However, most commercial almond milks have vanilla flavour added, accompanied by a little sugar or a sweetener like agave.
Compared to full-fat cow’s milk, almond milk has almost no protein or fat, twice as many carbs, and little calcium, unless it’s been fortified. Think of it as skim milk but without the protein or calcium. Even when fortified, its calcium is not as well absorbed as that of cow’s milk.
Almond milk comes into its own if you’re allergic to both dairy and soy, or if you follow a vegan diet. Just remember that it is not at all equivalent nutritionally to regular milk. So if you drink it a lot or give it to children, buy one that’s calcium-enriched.
This is an edited extract from the Complete Food and Nutrition Companion by Catherine Saxelby (Hardie Grant Books; RRP $39.99). Available in stores nationally.