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Best Almond Milk : Rawkstar Report


Discover the best almond milk money can buy. We searched every grocery store in a 60-mile radius of our hometown Brooksville to find all the refrigerated almond milks. ( If this review is helpful, we definitely could see doing a similar review for all the “shelf-stable” almond milks. )

We bought 15 different brands of unsweetened almond milk from the refrigerated section, then did an extensive test on every one of them.

Predictions were made as to which brands would win, and we were shocked with some of the results! We also looked at these brands based on ingredients to determine the top winners. Read on for the best and the worst (in our humble opinion). 

best almond milk test in Jen Hansard's kitchen

Almond Milk Ratings

Cut through the chaos when choosing the best almond milk in the refrigerated section. Discover how these unsweetened, unflavored almond milk stacked up against one another.

Scoring System

BESTBETTEROKAYNOT GREATHORRIBLE

Results

The best almond milk brands we tested against one another

Our Quest for the Best Almond Milk

Dan and Erin from the Rawkstar Team spent a day driving around Tampa Bay buying every brand they could find. They went to…

We then gathered at my house, ate pizza to cleanse our palates, and set up the “taste test”. We blindly rated each milk based on taste and texture. Then we rated based on quality of ingredients and packaging (design and sustainability).

While we know taste and texture are huge buying factors, we also compared ingredient lists to give our best recommendations.

If it tastes horrible, we can’t spend the money just because it is ‘clean.’ The very best way to get delicious, clean almond milk is to make it ourselves. Yet, that’s not always possible or the direction we’re gonna choose.

The samples of milk used to test for taste and texture

The Healthiest Brands in Stores

Almond milk is NOT all created equal. Many brands add fillers, gums, fortify with vitamins, and alter taste with “natural flavors” to make it taste better. Always read labels when shopping; you never know what you’re gonna get if you don’t. The branding may look clean, attractive, and healthy, yet the ingredients tell a different story.

The top 3 healthiest milks on the market right now are Elmhurst, Malk and Trader Joe’s Simple Almond.

Is Almond Milk good for you?

Plant-based milks have exploded in the market in recent years. Consumers are buying more plant-based products, and grocery stores are listening. To be clear, we have nothing against dairy, yet it is a common allergy or sensitivity.

See how 1 cup of almond milk stacks up to 1 cup of dairy milk below:

Unsweetened Almond Milk

  • between 30 – 50 calories
  • 1 – 2 grams of carbs
  • 20-50% daily Vitamin E
  • 20%-45% recommended daily intake of Calcium (manufacturers enrich most almond milks to compete with dairy milk)

Low Fat Dairy Milk

glass of almond milk with whole almonds scattered around the table, and part of the milk carton next to it

Gums in almond milk?

Food companies know that if they want to sell a ‘healthy looking’ product, they need to label it corn syrup free and non-GMO. Yet they continue to add fillers, like gums, that aren’t exactly “whole food”.

The four gums we found during our best almond milk test were:

  • Carrageenan (the worst): Added to food to thicken, emulsify, and preserve. It is made from red seaweed and the US National Library of Medicine determined it can cause inflammation, damage the digestive system, and colon cancer. 
  • Xanthan Gum (not so good): added to food as a thickener, a preservative. It’s created when sugar is fermented by a certain kind of bacteria. It is a soluble fiber, meaning our bodies cannot break it down. This means it has no nutritional value. Xanthan gum comes from sugar found in wheat, corn, soy, and dairy. Therefore, people can be allergic to it, and should avoid if suffer allergies to any of the above foods. 
  • Gellan Gum (better): Added to food to thicken, stabilize, and texturize. It is a plant-based alternative to gelatin. Studies are inconclusive so far in determining the safety/benefit vs the risk of adding gellan gum to food. Some studies show that it can reduce constipation. Other studies link it to abnormalities in stomach lining.
  • Locust Bean Gum (better): added to food as a natural thickener. It is made from the seeds of a carob tree. It has several health benefits such as lowering blood sugar, high in fiber, and can reduce reflux in infants (added to infant formula). While it is more naturally occurring than the other gums we mentioned, there also isn’t a whole lot of research yet on how good or bad it can be for our bodies to ingest in the long run.

Calcium: Calcium Carbonate vs. Tricalcium Phosphate

Many almond milk manufacturers fortify their milk with calcium to help almond milk compete with dairy milk. The 2 main kinds of calcium added are calcium carbonate and tricalcium phosphate.

They have roughly the same amount of elemental (real) calcium per unit, however, calcium carbonate is more easily digested, as it is more naturally occurring than tricalcium phosphate. Companies choose the more processed, less natural form of calcium, tricalcium phosphate, because it’s cheaper. We docked them in our report if they did this.

Sunflower Lecithin

Many of the almond milk brands have an ingredient called sunflower lecithin. We have lecithin naturally in our bodies, it is made up of fatty acids. Sunflower lecithin in particular is non-GMO, which makes us happy. This supplement is added to food as an emulsifier. Basically, it keeps fat and oils from mixing with other substances in our bodies.

There are several health benefits to sunflower lecithin, such as:

  • Improves Heart Health through breaking down fat
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Promotes liver health
  • Helps breastfeeding mothers avoid clogged ducts
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves digestion
  • Fights dementia symptoms 

We noticed that a few of the milks had a strong nutty taste (yet not like an almond), which we think is from the sunflower lecithin.

Top 3 Almond Milk Winners:

  1. GOLD: Elmhurst Milked Almonds, Unsweetened
  2. SILVER: So Delicious Organic Almondmilk with Cashew, Unsweetened
  3. BRONZE: Publix Unsweetened Original Almondmilk

Best Taste + Texture

  1. Publix Unsweetened Original
  2. Elmhurst Milked, Unsweetened
  3. So Delicious Organic with Cashew, Unsweetened

Best Clean + Simple Ingredients:

  1. Elmhurst Milked, Unsweetened
  2. Trader Joe’s Simple Almond Beverage
  3. Organic Almond Malk Unsweetened

Best in Design + Sustainable Packaging:

  1. Elmhurst Milked, Unsweetened
  2. Organic Almond Malk Unsweetened
  3. So Delicious Organic Almondmilk with Cashew, Unsweetened

Best Priced Almond Milk:

  1. Friendly Farms Almond Original Unsweetened Almond milk ($1.79/Aldi)
  2. Great Value Almond milk ($2.36/Walmart)
  3. Good and Gather Unsweetened Original Almond ($2.59/Target)
  4. Trader Joe’s Almond Beverage Original Unsweetened ($2.69/Trader Joe’s)

Which Milks Surprised Us:

The lowest scoring milks were the most shocking. Before the taste test, we hypothesized that Malk and Califia Farms would probably be one of the highest ranking milks. They are both ‘specialty, high-end’ brands and seem to make big waves in the plant-based community (we are talking partnerships with major plant-based influencers).

Yet when it came to the taste test, they scored among the lowest.

I want to point out that this was a blind taste test for us, so it was as unbiased as we could be. Malk is also the most expensive milk we found, for the smallest quantity (though we loved the packaging!). Califia Farms was the most widely found, and at different price points depending on where it was purchased. 

Green smoothie in a mason jar next to almond butter, a bowl of spinach, and bowl of berries, and bananas

5 Recipes that use Almond Milk

We love using almond milk as a base in recipes to create a creamy, protein enriched meal. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie
  2. Maple Cauliflower Smoothie Bowl
  3. Spiced Almond Milk
  4. Cherry Almond Cinnamon Green Smoothie
  5. Chocolate Fiber Smoothie Cubes

Drop a comment below and let us know your favorite almond milk… and if you found this Rawkstar Report helpful. This is our very first one and we’d like to do more if you we get enough positive feedback.

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  1. Gina says:

    Many thanks for the Rawkstar Report on best almond milk!! I look forward to future research!!

  2. Elizabeth Creighton says:

    Love the picture!! Great job. I hope you will do an analysis of shelf stable boxed almond milk. I was totally into boxed milks until I realized that the refrigerated cartons were a much better buy — more for less cost — even in the same brand. Buying boxed milks allowed me to go to the store less often. Now we live across the street from the grocery store and I can walk over and get some more milk, but I still like to have extra supplies in my pantry.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Elizabeth! We are hoping to do a report on shelf-stable almond milks in the near future.

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