Nut milks are a great alternative if you cannot digest cow's milk, but there is one thing you need to be aware of. Have you ever read the ingredients on a nut milk's carton? One common ingredient is carrageenan. Carrageenan is an additives extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, which is used as a thickener in ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk, nut milk and other processed foods. It has no nutritional value and can lead to inflammation.
"Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and cancer." (Is Carrageenan Safe?, Andrew Weil, M.D.)
There are two ways to consume your favourite nut milks while avoiding the harmful substance. The first is to choose brands that do not use carrageenan. One of my favourites is Silk. Silk does contain locust bean gum and gellan gum, a thickener, but do not pose the same health issues as carrageenan. "As a general rule, gums can be problematic for those with digestive issues simply because they’re mostly indigestible." Harmful or Harmless: Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, and More, Chris Kresser)
The most ideal way to avoid all additives is to make nut milks from scratch. It's easy and only requires ingredients that you recognize and love.
If you are making almond or cashew milk, here are step-by-step instructions.
- 1 cup almonds or cashews
- 2 dates
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 4 cups water
- Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight, drain and rinse well.
- Place almonds, 2 dates, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and 4 cups of water in blender.
- Blend for 1 minute.
- Strain and enjoy! (It will keep in your fridge for 2-3 days)