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Is Almond Milk Good for PCOS? A PCOS Nutritionist’s Opinion

Almond milk has become a popular dairy alternative for various dietary needs, but you may wonder whether it’s a beneficial choice if you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS affects hormone levels and metabolic processes and often prompts individuals to carefully select foods that support their health goals. Almond milk, due to its typically low glycemic index and presence of healthy fats, could be a good addition to your diet.

Key Takeaways

  • Good news! Almond milk can be a good option as a dairy-free beverage for people with PCOS.
  • When choosing almond milk, consider unsweetened and fortified almond milk.
  • Homemade almond milk is easy to make but isn’t fortified so it is missing key nutrients like B vitamins.

PCOS and Almond Milk: What’s the Link?

PCOS is an hormonal disorder with many symptoms including acne, oily skin, irregular periods, hirsutism, alopecia, rapid weight gain and more.

For people living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), lifestyle changes, including dietary choices, can be helpful in managing symptoms. A varied and balanced diet plays a role in maintaining stable blood glucose levels, a significant factor in PCOS management.

There are lots of plant-based alternatives to popular dairy products including soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, rice milk, cashew milk, hemp milk and more. These milk substitutes can be useful for people with dairy or milk allergies.

Almond milk emerges as a popular alternative for those exploring non-dairy options. Contrary to the polarised views on dairy versus non-dairy milk circulating online, the effectiveness of almond milk for PCOS management is not black or white but should be considered as part of an overall balanced diet. There is no one PCOS diet, instead, your focus should be on a diet that includes a variety of foods providing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, rather than on individual food items.

Almond Milk Overview

Almond milk is a versatile and nutritious milk alternative that you might consider integrating into your diet, especially if you are vegan, have a dairy allergy or are reducing your dairy consumption for environmental reasons.

Nutritional Content of Almond Milk

Almond milk is low-calorie and is naturally free of lactose, making it a suitable option for those with lactose intolerance. It typically contains healthy fats, is rich in vitamin E, and can be a good source of calcium if fortified. However, on its own, it’s not a significant source of protein. The nutritional value can vary between homemade and commercial brands, the latter often being fortified with additional nutrients such as vitamin B, vitamin D and calcium.

Our table below outlines the nutritional content of the most common types of almond milk found in the UK.

Almond Milk Varieties

You can find a range of almond milk varieties on the market, from unsweetened and organic to flavoured and fortified options. The unsweetened types are preferable for a lower intake of added sugars, while the fortified versions can serve as a more comparable alternative to cow’s milk due to the added nutrients.

Benefits of Almond Milk

One of the main benefits of consuming almond milk is that it’s plant-based, perfect for anyone vegan. Additionally, almond milk lacks lactose, making it a staple for those with lactose intolerance seeking milk alternatives. It also contains mainly monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy and may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels, although whole nuts will provide more benefits.

Remember, when selecting almond milk, be sure to check the labels for nutritional profile and opt for the fortified versions to ensure you are getting a rich source of calcium.

How is Almond Milk Made?

Almond milk is made by soaking and grinding almonds in water.

Environmental Impact of Almond Milk

Production of almond milk has a lower environmental impact than dairy milk. Plus, it has lower greenhouse gas emissions and uses less land than soy, for example, but does require more water.

Is Almond Milk Good for PCOS?

If you’re managing PCOS, you may wonder about the role almond milk could play in your diet. As a drink that is typically low in sugar, almond milk can be a sensible inclusion, especially in its unsweetened form.

Potential Impacts on Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

Unsweetened almond milk is low in carbohydrates, which means it’s less likely to cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar levels. This is particularly beneficial for those with PCOS as stable blood sugar can help manage insulin resistance, a common condition associated with PCOS.

When choosing almond milk, unsweetened varieties are preferable as they lack the added sugars that can disrupt insulin sensitivity.

Effects on Inflammation and Hormones

Chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances are key concerns for people with PCOS. Almond milk contains magnesium, which may have a role in reducing inflammation and helping to balance hormones.

There has been some speculation that almond milk may cause acne. This is because it is claimed that almond milk is high in oestrogen and omega-6 fatty acids. Almonds are high in phytoestrogens (a group of plant compounds with a similar structure to oestrogen), but there is no evidence that consuming phytoestrogens will cause hormonal acne.

Similarly, omega-6 fatty acids are linked to inflammation which is also linked to acne. However almond milk only contains a small amount of omega-6 fatty acids – not enough to trigger acne.

Considerations When Choosing an Almond Milk

There are lots of different options for almond milk when shopping, plus the option of making your own almond milk at home. Different brands of almond milk can vary in their fat, carbohydrate and protein content, as well as their fibre content.

When on the lookout for the best option for almond milk, prioritise choices that have no added sugar and are rich in nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and protein. These nutrients support bone health and may aid in managing PCOS symptoms.

Go for almond milk with a higher amount of protein as many almond milks are low in protein compared to dairy milk. Choose almond milks with a good amount of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats which can be anti-inflammatory, and ensure there’s minimal saturated fat. Additionally, choose brands that offer fortified options to enhance your intake of essential minerals.

Adapting to Individual Nutritional Needs and Sensitivities

If you have lactose intolerance common in PCOS, almond milk is a beneficial dairy-free alternative.

How to Make Almond Milk at Home

Making almond milk at home is a straightforward process. But it is vital to remember that homemade milk will not be fortified with many beneficial nutrients such as B12, B2, D2, calcium and vitamin E. It is important that you get enough of these nutrients in your diet if you choose to go dairy-free. In particular, you must ensure that you are getting enough calcium into your diet for your overall health.

Here’s a simple guide to creating your own almond milk at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (150g) raw almonds
  • 2 cups (500ml) water for soaking
  • 4 cups (1000ml) water for blending
  • Optional: Honey, vanilla extract or dates

Instructions:

  1. Soak the Almonds: Begin by placing the almonds in a bowl and covering them with about 2 cups of water. Let them soak overnight, or for at least 12 hours, to soften. This is crucial for smooth milk.
  2. Drain and Rinse: After soaking, drain and thoroughly rinse the almonds under cool running water.
  3. Blend Almonds and Water: Add the soaked almonds and 4 cups of fresh water to a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is well combined and opaque.
  4. Strain the Mixture: Pour the mixture through a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or clean thin cloth over a large bowl. Gently squeeze out all the liquid; this is your almond milk.
  5. Flavour (Optional): Return the milk to the blender and add any desired sweeteners or flavours. Blend again to combine.
  6. Store: Pour the milk into a sealed container and store it in the fridge. Homemade almond milk typically lasts 3-4 days.

Equipment:

  • Bowl
  • High-speed blender
  • Nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or a thin cloth
  • Sealed container for storage

Tips:

  • Save the remaining almond pulp for use in baking or smoothies.
  • Adjust the water quantity to your preference for thicker or thinner milk.
  • Enjoy your homemade almond milk in cereals, or coffee, or drink it on its own.

Remember to shake the almond milk well before each use, as it may naturally separate when stored.

Key Takeaways: Is Almond Milk Good For PCOS?

​Nut milks can be a good choice for those choosing to reduce or eliminate their dairy intake. It’s important to remember that dairy isn’t something to be afraid of and there is no evidence that dairy is bad for PCOS.

However, if you do choose to go dairy-free for whatever reason, almond milk may be a good choice because it is low in carbohydrates compared to oat milk, rice milk and hemp milk. Plus, if you choose a fortified option it may contain essential nutrients like B2, B12, D2, calcium and vitamin E.

Remember to consult a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have medical conditions such as PCOS. They can offer personalised advice that considers your unique nutritional needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer your frequently asked questions about almond milk and PCOS.

What are the benefits of almond milk for managing PCOS symptoms?

Almond milk is a beneficial addition to your diet if you are managing PCOS symptoms. It’s typically low in calories and is often high in essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin E when fortified. Because it is low in carbohydrates compared to other dairy-free milk, it may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve your metabolic outcomes.

How does almond milk affect fertility for those diagnosed with PCOS?

For people with PCOS, almond milk can positively impact fertility by offering a dairy-free alternative that doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels. Stable blood glucose is crucial for regulating hormones that impact ovulation and, consequently, fertility.

In what ways can unsweetened almond milk be beneficial for health?

Unsweetened almond milk is low in sugars and carbohydrates, making it a favourable choice for maintaining a healthy weight and supporting stable insulin levels. It’s a fitting option if you’re looking to reduce your overall calorie intake whilst still receiving essential nutrients.

Between almond and oat milk, which is the healthier choice for managing PCOS?

While both almond and oat milk can form part of a balanced diet for managing PCOS, almond milk typically has a lower carbohydrate content. This characteristic of almond milk may help you manage insulin resistance—a common concern for those with PCOS—more effectively than oat milk.

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Alex Okell ANutr Founder and Editor

Founder and Editor | Registered Associate Nutritionist

  Founder of Be The Collective LTD [The PCOS Collective & The Endo Collective] Alex Okell ANutr is a London-based reproductive health nutritionist with experience in research, private practice and digital media. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition from King’s College London and has co-authored papers with the University of Cambridge, King’s College London, The Food Foundation and the Food Standards Agency. Alex offers 1:1 PCOS support in our virtual PCOS clinic.

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