Milk and Almond Milk

Most of us humans don’t know much, at least compared to how much there is to know.  We are  easily misled about all sorts of things. Before you get defensive, I admit I’m among the group I’m talking about. We are bombarded with information by advertisers, packaging, marketing tactics, television and radio talking heads, politicians, and celebrities of all persuasions. We even get information from so-called experts, although they sometimes lack expertise in the field about which they pontificate, unfortunately. Even when they are qualified and credentialed, they might be completely wrong in their advice and information. This is the state of our modern world. If you want proof of what I’m saying, just go to a grocery store.

A couple of years ago, my sister showed up to stay with us for a couple weeks. I noticed she liked almond milk instead of regular milk. I’d never paid much attention to almond milk, and I didn’t give it much thought at the time. Recently, I’ve noticed lots of friends and loved ones are drinking almond milk. We even had house guests recently who are great friends and they drink it.

Having a background in biochemistry, I got curious about what it is. It turns out it’s been around for a very long time, probably millennia, or almost as long as people have been eating almonds. It’s quite easy to make. You just grind up some almonds and mix with water. In some parts of the world and among certain cultures, it’s a basic beverage in the diet. I tasted some from the carton left in our refrigerator, and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve never liked almonds, but this almond milk was quite refreshing. I noticed it had vanilla added and I do like that. I looked on the label for the dietary information and decided to compare it with other milk related beverages. This is what I discovered.

Milk may be one of the most healthful food items we can eat or drink. It has protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. The fats are of the kind we call essential, meaning they must be in our diet or we will become malnourished.  If you drink low-fat or skim milk, you should realize you are drinking milk that has one of its most important and essential nutrients removed.  The carbohydrates in milk, primarily lactose, are completely healthy, unless you have congenital lactose intolerance which is an extremely rare condition.  Less than 1 in 10,000 people are born with this condition, however, most adults have reduced ability to digest lactose due to lower production of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine.  This is not a serious condition if you drink milk in moderation.  Some people have milk allergies which are unrelated to lactose intolerance.  Milk does not contain the carbohydrates fructose or sucrose which in high concentrations can be quite unhealthy for us for a variety of reasons.  Milk also contains calcium and several important vitamins. Nature provides mother’s milk as our first source of nutrition when we are born into this world, so it’s not surprising that milk is good for us.

To sum up what I discovered, whole milk from animal sources is quite nutritious. The plant derived milks from soy and almond are appropriate for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone who likes the taste or does not want to drink animal milk for many different reasons. Certainly, almond milk is the lowest in calories because it’s mostly water, 97 percent, with a pleasant taste and it looks like milk.  

About DocStephens

President Emeritus South Florida State College (Retired in 2013)
This entry was posted in Human Behavior, Human Nutrition, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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