Almond milk is one of my favorite milk substitutes that I use for my daily hot chocolate and oatmeal. Many vegans use almond milk, but it can be hard to find a product without carrageenan or guar gum.
Both of these ingredients are very common in food products and supplements, usually as a thickening or stabilizing agents. Guar gum has also been promoted by some people as a supplement to help with weight loss by making you feel full.
There is some evidence to suggest that we ought to avoid these ingredients when possible. Carrageenan has been implicated in worsening health conditions like IBD and guar gum has been associated with being a potential allergen and cause small bowel obstruction when consumed in high doses.
As with most things though, the picture isn’t so simple. There are some benefits to ingredients like guar gum if you can tolerate it, but for those who can’t, it’s good that there are foods out there which exclude it from their ingredients.
Some almond milk brands use other types of thickening agents such as tara gum, gellan gum, locust bean gum. The Locust bean gum (carob gum) has been found to be well-tolerated and a good alternative for people with digestive issues.
I often get almond milk from my local store and it has gellan gum and locust bean gum but it doesn’t have carrageenan. I also find these ingredients to be fine and don’t cause me any problems.
There is one brand of milk that you can find on Amazon called Elmhurst Almond milk. It doesn’t have any either guar gum or carrageenan and is a great choice if you’re sensitive to any gums or lactose.
Best Almond Milk Without Carrageenan and Guar Gum
Shopping around at the store or online for almond milk without these ingredients can be time-consuming. Often it’s not clear whether or not these ingredients are included. But there are a few out there by some popular brands which I’ll share below!
#1 Elmhurst Almond Milk (32 oz)- Free from Gluten, Lactose, Carrageenan and Guar Gum
Five ingredients: Filtered water, Almonds, Cane Sugar, Salt, Natural Flavors.
They’ve made this product to be as natural as possible with suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who wants a milk substitute which doesn’t have any of the artificial flavors and additives.
It doesn’t contain any gum or thickening agent and is also suitable for people who are gluten sensitive.
The natural creaminess of this drink is from the milked almonds, which provides 18 whole almonds per glass. No thickening or emulsifying agents were used in the manufacturing process.
This milk is good to use for vegan protein shakes, smoothies, cereals such as oatmeal, tea, and hot chocolate.
Features: 4x more nuts compared to other brands, 5 grams of natural protein per glass, Non-GMO, no added gums and thickening agents at all.
#2 Silk Almond Milk, Unsweetened – Great for Vegans! – No Carrageenan
Compared to the previous almond milk, Silk’s product does contain more ingredients, including gums which help to thicken up the milk.
Ingredients include Almond milk (water and almonds), Sea Salt, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, Natural Flavors.
It also contains many vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin E, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D2.
This milk substitute would be a great choice for vegans, especially since it contains vital vitamins and minerals which tend to be quite low on a vegan diet.
Features: No added sugar, 50% more calcium than dairy milk, verified non-GMO.
#3 Califia Farms Almond Milk – Unsweetened – No Carrageenan
Still keeping it simple, the almond milk contains a minimal number of ingredients, and instead of using guar gum or carrageenan, they’ve gone with two other thickening agents which are more tolerable for most people.
Ingredients include Almond milk (water and almonds), Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum.
Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Also free from possible allergens such as gluten, dairy, and soy.
Some people say that this milk agreed with their stomach much more than some other brands which contained potentially harmful ingredients like carrageenan.
This milk contains less added vitamins and minerals than the previous two products, but for the price, it’s a good choice, especially if you’re not vegan and just looking for a milk substitute.
Features: Non-GMO ingredients, BPA-Free, 50% more calcium than milk and only 35 calories per serving.
Benefits of almond milk
As already mentioned, almond is my go-to vegan milk alternative these days. It has a milk taste which can be used in many different foods and beverages and also provides important vitamins and minerals, especially for those on a vegan diet.
Almonds have been associated with many health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, reduced blood pressure, better gut health with improved levels of healthy bacteria, and is a good alternative for those who worry about the risks associated with soy milk.
Almond milk is often fortified with Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12. It also contains vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, and potassium. You also get around 6 grams of protein per ounce and 4 grams of fiber.
Fortunately, those of us who like to keep things simple and natural, there are a few options out there which don’t contain any artificial or potentially hazardous ingredients which can affect health in a negative way.
To sum up, the main reasons to drink almond milk are:
- Low in calories – great for people who are trying to lose weight
- Low in sugar – most almond milk products are very low in sugar, just make sure you choose the unsweetened one
- High in calcium – If you want strong bones, you need calcium in your diet. Vegans are especially prone to low calcium in their diet, and almond milk is a great milk substitute to make up for lack of dairy
- Vitamin E – Almond milk retains the vitamin E found naturally in almonds. Many brands of almond milk can provide up to 50% of your daily needs (see details below).
- Vitamin D – Most brands will provide a small amount of vitamin D2 (fortified)
- Lactose-free – Lactose can cause many problems for certain people, and many people don’t even know they’re lactose intolerant. Almond milk is free of lactose and therefore a healthy great alternative
- Can be used for many things – Almond milk can be used for smoothies, yogurts, tea or hot chocolate. It can also be used in breakfast cereals like oatmeal and even consumed on its own.