I remember being forced to drink warm dairy milk every night before bed while growing up. I never enjoyed it. I could never understand why at times I was woken up after falling asleep to be forced to drink the milk. Wasn’t the purpose of drinking warm milk to help one to sleep? But I was already asleep… oh well! 🙂
While travelling with my parents across India on train or bus, I again had to endure this milk drinking at nights. The problem was even worse. The milk seller usually diluted the milk and added tons of sugar to hide the fact. Ugh! the sweet after taste and the loads of sugar was enough to keep anyone awake!
I was glad I didn’t have to endure it anymore when I was in boarding schools or went to college. Since breakfast cereals are not part of a staple Indian breakfast, I avoided milk except when it was an ingredient in coffee or tea which is perfectly fine with me.
When I came to the US several years ago to study, I just didn’t have the time to cook an Indian breakfast. So cereals was the easy way out. Reluctantly, I had them with milk. Soy milk wasn’t popular or easily available back then.
However, as I started working and living by myself, I discovered Soy milk and started using that for breakfast cereals. I liked it much better than milk. However, recently I had been reading some of the negative effects of Soy. Namely, how it increases the estrogen levels and especially for men can cause adverse effects. Soy also contains phytic acid which inhibits absorption of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
That’s when I found a healthier alternative.
Some runners in my group have been telling me about their switch to almond milk and how they have been finding it much better than soy or regular milk. Though I had been hearing the benefits of almond milk for a year, I found it difficult to find it in stores. But lately, I started seeing them on shelves next to Soy and Rice milk in grocery stores. So I grabbed a carton instantly when I went this time. I bought the regular unsweetened variety. Almond milk tastes good when taken cold. I liked the taste though it has a nutty almond flavor (reminds me of cyanide from chemistry labs) which might take getting used to if you don’t like the smell. I however have no problems with that.
Some of the health benefits of almond milk are
Its gluten and lactose free (especially good for runners)
Rich in Vitamin E (an antioxidant) and minerals like potassium, copper and magnesium (whereas soy inhibits absorption of these)
High in proteins and low in carbohydrates (ideal for overweight people)
Almond milk contains high levels of unsaturated fat (which is good and raises your HDL) and has been associated with lower risk of heart attack
Drinking almond milk is great for your skin; almonds contain essential fatty acids that are good for the body and your complexion
I do know that in countries like India, almonds are expensive and considered a luxury. However, with the spending power of the Indian middle class rising, its no longer out of reach for the health conscious. I am glad to see these being available in regular grocery stores in my locality in the US.