Almond milk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative, especially for those looking to avoid dairy. But for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, an important question arises: is almond milk gluten free? The short answer is yes, almond milk is naturally gluten free. Keep reading to learn why, how it’s made, and tips for choosing the best almond milk for a gluten free diet.
What is Almond Milk?
Almond milk is a plant-based milk made by blending almonds with water. The almonds are soaked, ground into a paste, strained, and voila – you have almond milk! It can be unsweetened or sweetened with sugar, flavored with vanilla, and enriched with vitamins and minerals.
Compared to dairy milk, almond milk has a lighter consistency and a mild, nutty flavor. It contains no saturated fat or cholesterol like cow’s milk. Almond milk is naturally lactose-free, making it a popular dairy alternative for those avoiding milk allergies or lactose intolerance. It’s also naturally gluten free.
Is Almond Milk Gluten Free
Almond milk contains no gluten ingredients. Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Almonds are tree nuts, not grains, so almond milk contains no gluten.
Here’s a breakdown of the main ingredients in almond milk:
- Almonds – Naturally gluten free tree nuts
- Water – Gluten free
- Sweeteners (optional) – Often cane sugar or maple syrup, which are gluten free
- Flavorings (optional) – Such as vanilla extract or cocoa powder, which are gluten free
- Vitamins and minerals – Added supplements like calcium or vitamin E that are gluten free
As long as the almond milk doesn’t contain added thickening agents that contain gluten, such as wheat starch, it can be considered gluten free. When in doubt, check the ingredients label on your almond milk carton.
How is Almond Milk Made?
Commercial almond milk goes through a high-speed mechanical process, but you can also make basic almond milk at home. Here’s the gist:
Commercial Almond Milk Production
- Soaking – Raw almonds are soaked in water overnight to soften them.
- Blanching – The soaked almonds are blanched with steam or hot water to remove the skins.
- Grinding – The blanched almonds are ground into a thick almond paste. More water is added at this stage.
- Straining – The almond paste is strained through a cheesecloth to separate the nut pulp from the liquid.
- Flavoring and Fortifying – The strained almond milk is sweetened or flavored. Vitamins and minerals may be added to enrich it.
- Bottleing – The finished almond milk is bottled, packaged, and shipped to grocery stores.
Homemade Almond Milk
To make basic almond milk at home:
- Soak raw almonds in water overnight.
- Drain and rinse the almonds.
- Blend almonds with fresh water in a blender until smooth.
- Strain through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth.
- Store the homemade almond milk in the fridge and shake before drinking.
Tips for Picking the Best Gluten Free Almond Milk
When buying almond milk, keep these tips in mind:
- Check the label – Make sure no gluten ingredients like wheat starch are added. Look for brands that are certified gluten free.
- Avoid malt flavors – Some flavored almond milk add malt, which contains gluten. Stick to plain or vanilla flavors.
- Watch added gums – Some brands add gums or carrageenan for thickness. Make sure they’re gluten free gums like guar gum.
- Beware of cross-contamination – Even gluten free almond milk can get contaminated at the factory. Opt for brands made in a dedicated gluten free facility.
- Refrigerate after opening – Keep opened almond milk refrigerated and use within 7-10 days. The cold prevents microbial growth.
Nutrition Profile of Almond Milk
Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 1 cup (240ml) serving of unsweetened almond milk:
- Calories: 39
- Fat: 2.5g
- Protein: 1g
- Carbs: 1g
- Sugar: 0g
- Calcium: 451mg (45% DV)
- Vitamin D: 101IU (25% DV)
Almond milk is low in calories and carbohydrates. It’s also lactose-free and dairy-free. However, one downside is that it’s not a high protein milk alternative compared to cow’s milk.
When buying almond milk, opt for brands fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D to match the nutrient profile of dairy milk more closely. Shake well before drinking as the nutrients tend to separate.
Uses for Almond Milk in a Gluten Free Diet
Almond milk can seamlessly replace cow’s milk in a gluten free diet. Here are some ideas:
- Pour it over gluten free cereal or oatmeal
- Use it in smoothies, protein shakes, or chia pudding
- Mix it into gluten free baked goods like cakes and muffins
- Use it for creamy soups, sauces, and gluten free mac and cheese
- Drink it straight from the glass as a beverage
- Add it to your coffee instead of regular milk
- Use it for overnight oats by combining it with gluten free oats
Almond milk works well in savory cooking. For a nuttier flavor, opt for almond milk yogurt or kefir. Just check that they’re certified gluten free.
Common Questions about Almond Milk and Gluten
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about almond milk and gluten:
Is almond milk gluten free if it has added vitamins? Yes, added vitamins like calcium or vitamin D will not contain gluten and will not affect the gluten free status of the almond milk.
Can almond milk cause cross-contamination of gluten? There is a very small chance of cross-contamination if it’s processed at a facility that also handles gluten. Opt for almond milk that’s certified gluten free to be safe.
Does almond milk have gluten proteins naturally? No, almonds do not contain the gluten proteins found in grains. Almond milk is naturally gluten free.
Is homemade almond milk gluten free? Yes, homemade almond milk made with raw almonds and water is completely gluten free. Just avoid adding any thickening agents that contain gluten.
Can people with celiac disease drink almond milk? Yes, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can safely drink plain almond milk. It’s a nutritious dairy-free option.
The Takeaway on Almond Milk without Gluten
Almond milk makes an excellent addition to a gluten free lifestyle. It’s naturally free of gluten, lactose, saturated fat, and cholesterol. When fortified, almond milk provides important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Look for unsweetened or flavored varieties and always check the label. With so many uses in cooking and beverages, almond milk can make it easier to cut out gluten and dairy.
I hope this overview helps explain why almond milk is gluten free, how to choose the best products, and how to incorporate it into your gluten free diet. Let me know if you have any other questions!