What to watch for with store-bought dairy-free milk
Nut milks are all the rage these days. Rightfully so: they are a great alternative to conventional dairy and they taste great. With mainstream supermarkets catching on, there is almost an entire aisle of dairy–free milks for you to choose from. You can find everything from cashew milk to rice milk, vanilla almond milk to chocolate soy milk, sweetened or unsweetened, and the list goes on. All of them advertise their health benefits. Unfortunately, many of these dairy-free milks are ladened with added sugar, preservatives and emulsifiers. It can be very confusing and frustrating when trying to pick the right one.
Additives and preservatives in packaged diary-free milks
Here’s a list of some of the nasty things that can be hiding in your store-bought dairy-free milk. Make sure to read your labels and if you are going with a store-bought nut milk and always make sure it’s unsweetened.
This seaweed-based additive is extremely inflammatory and should be avoided. Carrageenan is so harmful to the digestive tract that researchers use it to induce colitis in lab animals! The World Health Organization classifies one type of carrageenan as a “possible human carcinogen” but companies are using thick emulsifiers such as carrageenan to give their products a creamy, rich consistency. Because of its bulking properties, it can cause chronic digestion problems, severe bloating, gas and stomach pain.
2. “Natural flavours”
This term conveniently eliminates the need to list unsavoury additives on the ingredient list. “Natural flavours” can even mean forms of MSG and artificial sweeteners. Also, look out for evaporated cane Juice or cane syrup, which are just different names for sugar.
3. Vegetable oils
Most nut or seed milks contain canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower seed oil, and/or soybean oil, all of which are bad news. Vegetable oils are a freak of nature; after all, it takes a lot of effort to get a gallon of oil from corn! Vegetable oils are extracted with toxic solvents as well as high heat and pressure, agents that rancidify the delicate chemical structure of the fatty acids. Further, corn and soy oils are most likely from heavily-sprayed and GMO crops.
When it comes to non-dairy milk options, soy milk is by far the worst choice. Soy contains high amounts of phytoestrogens which may cause estrogen dominance.
Soy impairs thyroid function, which can lower metabolism. This may lead to hair thinning, skin problems and weight gain.
5. Emulsifiers, such as xanthan gum and guar gum
Similar to carrageenan, xanthan gum and guar gum are thickening agents that are very hard on the digestive tract. They have been linked to digestive issues such as leaky gut syndrome, colitis, allergic reactions and inflammatory bowel disease.
The best way to avoid these harmful ingredients, additives and emulsifiers and to get the best taste is to make your own. Here are some of my favorite homemade nut milk recipes:
You are going to need a blender and a nut milk bag.