Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ah, Nuts... Almond or Goat Milk?

Ah, Nuts... Almond or Goat?

Angenette Lilly-Vasquez 

This is an udder--found on goats, sheep, or cows. 
It is where milk comes from.

This is an almond tree. It is where almonds come from.
Milk does not grow on trees. Nuts do. 

Love almond milk? Many people do. However, the truth is that it is not really milk. Sorry. For anyone who still wants to use it as milk, there are a few things one needs to be aware of. Again, one is that it is not really milk--nutritionally. Even though it has additives to fortify and make it more milk-like, it is highly processed, going from a solid to a liquid--nut to milk, while losing part of its 'goodies' in the process. When compared to a milk like goat's milk, it just doesn't stack up to the essentials found in real milk. In fact, almond milk does not really stack up to being almond 'milk.' With only 2% of the content in almond milk based in the US actually being almond based, it is more like almond 'water' than 'milk' with the other 98% of the ingredients being water and other products (sweeteners, vitamins, and minerals) to make the product more palatable and nutritional. Yes, it may be lower in calories and fat, but so is water. Some things are better eaten the way nature intended (as a nut) to get the full benefits from them instead of processing them. Nature good--> processed, well... not so good.

How does it compare to goat milk?

According to Kelsey Jeter, a University of Missouri Extension Nutrition Specialist, while almond milk may contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, is high in Vitamin E, calories, and carbs, and while it may also often be fortified with lots of vitamins (via the processor), it loses most of its protein during processing and after processing, ends up being mostly water with empty calories if sweetened. As Tom Philpott suggests in "Lay Off the Almond Milk," perhaps eating the almond itself is much more effective for those wanting any nutritional gain from the nut, especially in the form of protein.

When it comes to making comparisons, the following information is based on a 100 gram serving of either goat milk or almond milk. The information is taken from the ND database; it can differ based on type of goat. Goat milk has 3.6 g of protein vs 0.4 for almond milk. It has only 4.5 g total carbs while almond milk has 3.3 g. Almond milk is lower in calories at 25 vs 69, and goat milk is higher in 'fat'. Goat milk is also notated as having 11 mg of cholesterol, and this, in addition to the fat, is one of the only things that many people will consider unhealthy. However, according to research at the University of Granada, neither of these--the cholesterol or fat-- are factors to worry about with goat milk. In fact, the study found that fat in goat's milk actually reduces overall cholesterol levels in the body; the same fat "maintains adequate levels of triglycerides and transaminases (GOT and GPT). This makes it a food of choice for the prevention of heart diseases" ("Scientific study proves that goat milk"). It is also an A2 food, which also means it is not linked in the category with many A1 types of cow's milk that have been linked to stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases associated with animal milks. Goat's milk also contains essential fatty acids along with "medium-chain fatty acids (C6-C14) MCT" that can be used as quick energy; they aren't stored as fat in the body" ("Scientific study").

Other Nutrients, including the Essentials: 

Calcium: Goat milk contains 134 mg of calcium per 100 gram serving. Almond milk contains 188 mg, but this is not natural calcium. It is calcium that has been added to the milk after processing. It only contains 2 mg of calcium on its own, so it should not be used without fortification as a source of calcium.

Vitamin D: Goat milk contains minimal amounts of Vitamin D--usually about 3.2 mcg; it is often fortified with other sources of Vitamin D when sold in stores. However, grass fed goats with good pastures and access to browse will have higher amounts and require less fortification. If fortified, it is only fortified to around 12 IU. Naturally, it still beats almond milk, which only has 2.76 mcg; it is usually fortified to higher amounts--around 41.7 IU--to increase absorption.

Vitamin C:  Goat milk contains 1.3 mg. Almond milk contains none.

Phosphorus: Goat milk contains 111 mg of phosphorus, which is 11% of the DV. Almond milk comes in at about 8.3 mg. The lower phosphorus is sometimes asked for for those with stage 4 kidney problems, but not for others who want a more phosphorus rich diet.

Riboflavin: Goat milk contains 0.3 mg of riboflavin, which is 20% of the DV. Almond milk contains .2 mg.

Vitamin B-12:  There are 0.1 mcg of B-12 in goat milk. Almond milk is a good source of B Vitamins at 1.3 mcg.

Potassium: Goat milk contains 204 mg. Almond milk only contains 0 in a 100 gram serving.

Vitamin A: Goat milk contains 198 iu of Vitamin A. Almond milk is a little higher in this area with 208 iu. However, some of this is destroyed via processing, and while researching, I found that many labels of almond milk read as it having 0% or add it as fortification.

Niacin:  Raw almonds contain .032 mg of niacin in 1/4 cup, but I cannot seem to find info for amounts, if any, that are left after processing the small amount of almonds used in making milk. Niacin is essential for health, especially for those with depression and mood disorders, and many would say that those who have tendencies toward addictions (alcoholism, etc) need this nutrient, too. In this case, I would definitely opt for eating the nut itself to get the niacin. Otherwise, just drink the goat milk, which is higher at 0.280 gm.

Iron: Goat milk contains iron at 0.1 mg. The University of Granada research states that the iron levels in goat's milk have proven very beneficial for those with anemia. Personally, I saw my late husband's blood levels rise from a 6 after colo-rectal surgery to a 9 in just 2 weeks! The doctors were astounded.  Unless fortified, almond milk does not contain iron. Most packages read 0%.  If fortified, levels are between 0.1-0.3 mg.

Vitamin E: Goat milk contains .17 mg. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, and this comes in at about 4.2 mg.

Magnesium: Goat milk contains 14 mg. Almond milk contains 6.7 mg. This is another very necessary nutrient, especially for nervous system and cardiovascular health.

Thiamine: 0.1 mg is present in goat milk. None is present in almond milk.

Zinc: 0.3 mg is present in goat milk. Zinc is at 0.6 in almond milk. I am not aware of how much of this is natural and how much is fortified. From most of the labels, it looks like zinc is usually an addition.

Selenium: Goat milk contains 1.4 mcg. Almond milk contains none.

Copper: Goat milk contains 0.05 mg while almond milk contain 0.1 mg.

Vitamin K: 0.3 mcg in goat milk. None in almond milk.

Vitamin B6: None found in almond milk. 100 grams of goat milk is usually 2% B6.

Folate: None in almond milk. There is 0.1 mcg in goat milk.

Pantothenic Acid: None in almond milk. There is .3 mg in goat milk.

Choline: None in almond milk. There is a whopping 16 mg in goat milk. Choline is an essential micronutrient needed for healthy brain development and liver function.

Betaine: None in almond milk. None in goat milk.

Total Omega 3's: None in almond milk. There are 40 mg in goat milk.

Total Omega 6's: None in almond milk. There are 109 mg in goat milk.

More: Additionally, goat milk contains a large number of oligosaccharides, similar to the composition of human milk, and these act like prebiotics ("Scientific study").  The fat globules are small and easily digested by people of all ages. The same study also states that low levels of casein alpha 1 -as make goat milk 'hypo-allergenic' for those with true cow milk allergies. While lactose intolerance or allergy is often screamed at as the major offender with animal milk usage, it is often actually a casein intolerance that is the problem. In that case, the person drinking the milk will not suffer the same problems when drinking goat milk, which contains different casein than most cow milk.

The minerals and vitamins available in goat milk are natural, 'bioavailable,' and ready to build bones and healthy bodies. Eat the nut. Then drink goat milk.

Additional Sources:

Almond Milk: Healthy or Hype?

Could Goat's Milk be the New Almond Milk?

Goat Milk Nutrients VS Cow's Milk

Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters

Scientific study proves that goat milk can be considered as functional food

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