12 March 2012

Reviews and comparisons of Almond Milk.... the best and the worst!

Are you looking for a dairy-free, soy-free alternative to milk?  Almond and coconut milks are delicious and healthy alternatives.  If you own a juicer, it is quite simple to make your own... however, if you want to try commercially available brands, I've tried them all and researched ingredients for you!

Here's my take on the best and the worst of commercially available almond milk...
  • Blue Diamond Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla- my favorite! Fantastic with lattes, creamy, delicious and smooth,  Does not contain gellan gum or xanthan gum both of which may cause reactions in hypersensitive patients.  From company email: Blue Diamond only uses the highest quality food grade *carrageenan – not degraded carrageenan.
  • So Delicious Almond Milk - also very tasty and great for lattes.  Contains carrageenan and locust bean gum but no reactions.  One of the few certified gluten-free, dairy-free!  And they do make "Plus" versions with extra protein (5gm per serving) from added rice protein - haven't tried this yet.
  • Whole Foods 365 Organic Almond Milk - Very bad news!  Do not try this if you are gluten-sensitive! Contains **xanthan gum- which I reacted to with trouble breathing & rash.  
  • Silk Pure Almond Milk - tastes great, no carrageenan but contains gellan gum and locust bean gum.  Gellan gum is polysaccaride produced by pseudamonas and since often people with sensitive immune systems, (like me!) react to lipopolysaccarides, proceed with caution!  The upside is the make the small individual containers which are great for travel...
  • Pacific Organic Unsweetened Almond milk - This one you will find in the aisles with the, non-refrigerated dairy alternatives.   One of the few certified organic brands.  Contains "rice starch" which is not great for paleo or those sensitive to starches, also contains  carageenan (seems to be a pattern here :) but certified gluen-free, dairy-free.  However, it tastes terrible in lattes...very acidic and not creamy at all.  Also curdles and separates when heated. They do make travel sizes....

*Carageenan is a natural polysaccharide (carbohydrate) extracted from red seaweed. It is referred to as a seaweed gelatin much like agar agar. It is a vegetarian/vegan alternative to gelatin.  There are two types of carrageenan, undegraded (food-grade) and degraded (hydrolyzed with acid).  New studies are being done on the safety of Carrageenan, which is in question.

**Xanthan gum may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, dairy, or soy. As such, persons with known sensitivities or allergies to food products are advised to avoid foods including generic xanthan gum or first determine the source for the xanthan gum before consuming the food.  Specifically, an allergic response may be triggered in people sensitive to the growth medium, usually corn, soy, or wheat. For example, residual wheat gluten has been detected on xanthan gum made using wheat. This may trigger a response in people highly sensitive to gluten. 

32 comments:

  1. Just as a note: I do get migraines from carageenan, reacting in just the way I do to other MSG-like products. I guess I am just reacting to the free glutamic acid, no matter if it comes from degraded hydrolyzed proteins or carageenan. So in that regard, the xanthan gum is much, much better for me than carageenan thickened products.

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  2. i have used Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk in my coffee for the past three years with no adverse reactions to it (or at least none that I know of). It was recently brought to my attention that I shouldn't be drinking it because it is a very toxic substance even possibly leading to colon cancer. Needless to say I have been in a panic ever since, as my father died from colon cancer. In addition, like you I had a terrible reaction to the Silk Almond Milk and am desperate to find something to put into my coffee. Your thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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    1. Hi Mary,
      Thanks for your comments. I think almond milk is fine unless you're sensitive to almonds, however, my favorite dairy alternative is unsweetened organic coconut milk, which contains MCTs - great for weight loss and energy and is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. For a latte, I use coffee with a bit of unsweetened coconut milk and 5 drops of English Toffee naturally flavored Sweet Leaf stevia - delicious!

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  3. There is an easy solution. Make your own. Soak a bag of organic almonds overnight. Put into a high quality blender like the VitaMix, blend and strain through a milk bag. Done.

    Now you have fresh almond milk minus ALL the fillers. You just can't trust these major food companies anymore. Did you know Orange Juice is sprayed with chemicals to bring back it's flavor cause they sit in huge metal tanks for up to a year? They don't have to put this on the label but with a little research you'll find that companies do nasty things to their product.

    We use our VitaMix blender to make our own Almond Butter (super easy), Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Cashew Nut milk etc. Best investment my wife ever made. I hope this info helps.

    Paleo all the way!!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Jesse. Great stuff, I completely agree with you! I'm making my own coconut milk now, too :)
      Blessings
      Dr Jill

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    2. I have been told that calcium carbonate , found in some Almond Milk is chalk.

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  4. My friend, Suzy Cohen, made a great video on how to make your own almond milk... which is the safest and best option if you are sensitive to commercial brands
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_gQF2VKNNI

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  5. Thank you for this post! Great information, I was wondering if anyone knows of a almond milk that is gluten,dairy,corn free. I am almost positive I have a corn allergy. I was diagnosed with gluten allergy back many years ago. Looking into corn and its effects on body for gluten sensitive people. Thank your for any help!!!

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  6. It has virtually been established that Carrageenan is bad for you even in "Food Grade" form. Our whole family had to quit drinking almond milk because of bloating, pain and other problems. We have since learned of friends having the same problems, especially children because they are overly sensitive, but we have alerted them to this study and almond milk is history in our diets and no more problems.

    University Of Illinois Study on Carrageenan:

    http://www.cornucopia.org/DrTobacmanComment_toNOSB.pdf

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    1. I meant to say Undegraded Carrageenan in lieu of "Food Grade" because the article referred to this type of Carrageenan as "likely safe" which is a dangerous assumption based on the studies that show all forms of Carrageenan to be dangerous. My child was just diagnosed with indications of juvenile diabetes and I'm almost certain that almond milk is to blame. We have been off of almond milk for almost a month now and my child had her first dip of ice cream with a normal blood sugar response....yeah! All of us need to do whatever necessary to spread the word about the harm almond milk has caused. So many are unaware that their health problems could be just a few steps away in the fridge.

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    2. Sheryda:Don't blame the Almond Milk, is not the almonds but the caraageenan. Home made almond milk, my children love it. We need to be carefull about what we say, we have to blame ourself, need to learn labels, and research what ever
      word we don't know (chemicals),and any effect on our bodies.

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    3. Anonymous,

      Here is a recipe for raw almond milk. It just contains purified water, raw almonds, and vanilla and dates, if desired. I hope this helps you all: http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/raw-almond-milk-recipe

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  7. When I was in Europe I tried Provamel's Almond Milk - it was just PERFECT.
    Contains only 4 ingredients: water-almonds(7%!!!!)-agave-maltodextrin.
    Best ever! I just wish they will bring their products to Israel already! =]

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  8. What are your thoughts about GMOs? Blue Diamond uses GMO almonds. Silk is verified non-GMO and does not contain carrageenan. It seems there is no perfect product and makes sense to make our own almond milk at home with organic almonds.

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    1. I have ever made almond milk. Consume lot of almonds as snacks. However, I am trying to kick my coffee habit and am looking for a milk alternative for use in sprouted grain cereal.(nutty texture) What is the texture of blended almond milk before straining? Maybe a odd question, just curious.
      Thanks!

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    2. Found this on Blue Diamond's website: " Blue Diamond uses California almonds grown by our grower co-operative members without the use of genetic engineering or gene manipulation. The varieties of almonds available were developed using traditional agricultural breeding techniques." where did you find out that they did?

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  9. Yes, agree completely! There are no perfect commercially available almond milks and I highly recommend that patients learn the simple art of making their own at home....

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  10. Update to my views on Carrageenan... http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401181/Is-Carrageenan-Safe.html

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  11. Yvette ,,, I drink silk pure almond I get very bloating. why is that.

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  13. Tree House almond milk is a very pure brand and the only commercial I can ingest.

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  14. Medications that slow blood clotting (Coumadin) interact w/ Carrageenan----increases chances of bruising & bleeding as well. So I have gone back to Silk Soymilk that is Carrageenan free & no more INR reading problems.

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  15. Trader Joe's Unsweetened Vanilla is the BEST!

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  16. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze does contain xanthan gum!

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  17. Whole foods 365 brand almond milk just reduced its calcium content from 30-45% to 10%. I'm so disappointed because I drink almond milk for its calcium content and healthy bones. I loved making my own but stopped because I don't think the calcium content is as reliable, since I had no way of measuring it. Your thoughts?

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  18. Thanks for the great tips, readers! Still recommend making your own and don't worry too much about calcium. Absorption of calcium is enhanced with an alkaline diet and can also be found in leafy greens and other foods. Magnesium, Vitamin D, phosphorus and other minerals may be equally important for optimal bone health.

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  19. Here's more on carrageenan from Chris Kresser... http://chriskresser.com/harmful-or-harmless-carrageenan

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  20. No offense, Carla, but using dates is as bad as using white sugar (worse, actually, according to its place on the glycemic index). If a child is showing any signs of juvenile diabetes, making an almond milk with dates would surely cause their blood sugar to soar...

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  21. I tried making almond milk on my Omega Auger Juicer to use in my coffee as a cheaper alternative to buying Almond Silk Milk. I have been using Vanilla Almond Silk Milk and I do love it in my coffee! But my homemade almond milk tasted terrible! I even tried adding some vanilla and some sweetener. It was too thin as well! I was VERY disappointed!

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  22. Why is natural flavors in my silk almond milk . Doing research im finding out natural flavors are MSG! And its in organic foods also. They say NO GMO but it has MSG. why is it everytime you turn around something is bad in the stuff we eat

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  23. I saw that you mentioned using coconut milk as dairy alternative. Which brand would you recommend? I recently discovered the harmful additives that are in Almond Breeze almond milk. I do plan to start making my own almond milk but would also like to know of a quick alternative source i can buy when i dont have the time to make it.

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  24. Hi Remy, I recommend So Delicious brand plain unsweetened or unsweetened vanilla coconut milk. If you prefer absolutely no additives, you an also get Aroy-D brand thick coconut milk.

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