Is nut milk healthier for you? That really depends on what is in the nut milk.
Most commercially produced nut milks (cashew, almond) have very little nuts in them. In fact, lawsuits have been filed in the past due to the miniscual amount of nuts (> 3%). Further, many nut milks have additives so the “nut milk” looks and tastes like the cow version. So what else is in the nut milk? Sugar, unfiltered water, sunflower lecithin, carrageenan, guar gum, etc. As these are all-natural ingredients (however, overprocessed), they can even appear in “organic” labeling. So if they don’t use a lot of nuts, add questionable ingredients, and lots of unfiltered water, how beneficial is the nut milk? It is unclear, and companies do not share their ratio of water to nuts but if the nuts are >3%, that is a lot of water. So what can you do?
A. Make your own – yes, but you need a Vitamix blender or something as powerful to ensure the nuts are pulverized. You also need to make it correctly, if you are using 1 cup of soaked [nuts should be soaked for several hours and then rinsed before using] nuts to 3-5 cups of filtered water, add one cup of nuts and one cup of water to blend. When it is fully blended, add the remaining water (no need to blend again). You can likely pick up a refurbished Vitamix for @$200. You can also use a slow juicer such as Hurom. You can add sweetener (honey, maple syrup, stevia) and cacao/vanilla as well. If you prefer thicker milk, add less water (versus thickening agents). You can strain the milk as well but if using in smoothies and baking, no need.
B. Read labels – ideally, you want the milk to be as close to natural as possible (including the container which may contain preservative chemicals). Carrageenan, as mentioned above is natural, derived from seaweed, however, many people have sensitivities to this ingredient and are unaware. Further, since so much water is used, Filtered water is critical. Unfiltered water is full of chemicals. If you don’t know what is in the milk, contact the company and ask questions and then do your own research. In this day and age, it is worth the effort to find products you can trust for you and your family (and companies who sell them with transparency).
At Northgate Juice Joint, we make our own cashew milk and coconut milk. We use only nuts and filtered water in making the milk. We do not strain it as we use a commercial Vitamix blender and use the products primarily in smoothies, soups, and such. We use no dairy products.