Is almond milk a healthy alternative to cow's milk?

Almond milk can be a healthy and very acceptable substitute for regular cow's milk in cereal, coffee and other foods. It's a good source of potassium, manganese and vitamin E. Most commercial almond milk products are fortified with calcium, but always check the label to be sure. If calcium is added, you might want to shake the container before pouring, as added calcium can sometimes settle to the bottom of the container.

Almond milk is often found on the shelf in aseptic containers, but you should refrigerate it after opening. Check the label for specifics on storage and expiration dates.
Diana K. Blythe, MD
For those who are vegan, have a milk protein allergy or are lactose intolerant, almond milk can be a healthy alternative to cow's milk. However, make sure to check the ingredients as some almond milk brands can add quite a bit of sugar. In addition, almond milk has less protein than cow's milk. 
Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

Although almond milk is a great alternative for those with cow’s milk sensitivity or allergy, it's not equal to cow's milk in nutritional value since it is low in protein. A cup of unsweetened plain almond milk provides only 1 gram of protein as opposed to 8 grams of protein in cow's milk. Since almond milk has 60 to 80 mg more Sodium than any other milk type, it may be not suitable for those trying to control their salt intake.

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Almond milk is a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. Almond milk is high in calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin E. Like cow’s milk it is also high in protein. Almond milk can be used on cereals, in coffee, in baking, and with warm cookies right out of the oven! It is not a substitute for baby formula.

For children truly allergic to cow's milk or for vegan families, almond milk can be used as a milk substitute.  It's important to know that almond milk has only 1 gram of protein per serving, compared to cow milk (or soy milk), which has 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving.  When children drink a lot of almond milk, without milk or other sources of dairy products, their diet may be lacking in important nutrients needed for growth and development.  If your child is truly allergic to cow milk, or your family does not drink milk, it's important to work with a dietitian to ensure that your child is receiving other sources of healthy protein, calcium and vitamin D. As long as your family is otherwise eating and drinking a healthy diet, including fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein and dairy products, almond milk is a fine addition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.