With the rise of veganism and vegetarianism, there seems to be a plant-based alternative for almost everything nowadays. Leather, cosmetic ingredients, food and beverages (like milk) that are originally animal products can now be derived from plants. The most common types of plant-based milk are soy milk and almond milk. Are they the same? Do they provide the same nutritional value? What is the difference between the two? These questions (and more) will be discussed in this article.
Soy milk originated in Asia, particularly in China. It is a protein-rich beverage that can be produced at home by soaking dried whole mature soybeans in water for at least 3 hours and then grinding them, or by simply using a soy milk machine. The result is a puree which is then boiled to sterilize the liquid and to boost the taste. Then it is filtered to separate the solid particles from the liquid. The final product is a smooth and creamy opaque white or off-white liquid that is cholesterol and lactose free.
Soy milk is also now widely available in the market. The ones commercially sold can be sweetened or unsweetened, while other versions are “enhanced” or “fortified” versions. The sweetened or flavored version normally contains added sugar, which does not have a nutritional benefit and poses a health risk instead. The fortified version is a healthy option that is enhanced to contain calcium, which is not naturally contained in soy. In general, soy milk is a good source of protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron and carbohydrates. On the negative side, soy milk is believed to contain phytoestrogen which may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. It is also believed to negatively affect fertility and sperm count.
Almond milk is a beverage made by blending almonds and water. The resulting puree is then filtered to separate the pulp and the liquid. If whole almonds are not available, the beverage can be made by simply mixing water and almond butter. The result is a creamy liquid with a distinct nutty flavor, free of cholesterol and lactose.
There are different varieties of commercially sold almond milk. Some are plain, while others are flavored. Some versions are enhanced to contain vitamins and minerals like calcium, since almond milk does not naturally contain it. Although almonds are essentially packed with proteins, almond milk has a low protein content because it does not require many almonds to produce the milk. In general, almond milk is a powerful source of vitamin E and manganese, which are essential to promote healthy skin and hair and to prevent certain cancers.
The most obvious difference between the two is their plant source. Soy milk is produced by blending mature soybeans and water while almond milk is produced by grinding whole almonds and water or by mixing almond butter and water.
When it comes to nutritional value, both only contain calcium and other minerals when they are fortified or enhanced. Almond milk is low in protein and calories but is high on vitamin E and manganese while soy milk is packed with proteins and high in calories. Soy milk is also controversial as it contains phytoestrogen that may have negative effects.
|Soy Milk||Almond Milk|
|Made by blending mature soybeans and water||Produced by blending whole almonds and milk or by mixing almond butter and water|
|High in protein and calories||Has a high vitamin E and manganese content; low in protein and calories|
|Contains phytoestrogen that is believed to have negative effects on the body||Contains vitamin E and manganese which prevent risks of certain cancers|