I recently learned that store bought almond milk has unhealthy additives, one in particular called Carrageenan. What is carrageenan you ask? It is extracted from red edible seaweed and is often used to thicken non fat or low fat foods and dairy replacements. It helps stabilizes beverages that would otherwise separate sitting on the shelf. Carrageenan is not digestible and provides no nutritional value, in fact when this “natural” food item is transformed into degraded carrageenan it turns into a potent inflammatory agent. Additionally, in animal studies carrageenan was found to lead to elevated blood sugar and lipid levels. Click here to review the scientific study on carrageenan and inflammation and here for the study on carrageenan and elevated blood sugar levels. These two discoveries are enough for anyone to air to the side of caution and avoid store bought items with this ingredient. Good news is that it’s super easy to make your own almond milk at home!
Scroll down to view my almond milk recipe.
Why are these studies particularly alarming for woman with PCOS?
PCOS is an imbalance of the endocrine system in our bodies leading to a wide variety of symptoms, most notably hormonal imbalance and irregular periods. PCOS’s origin is still poorly understood by the medical community but recent studies have indicated that low grade, body wide inflammation plays a huge role in the development of PCOS. Body wide inflammation sets in motion a chain reaction of biochemical events that results in a hormonal imbalance known as insulin resistance. To combat this inflammation, the immune system needs a diet rich in anti inflammatory foods and more importantly, PCOS women should stay clear of foods/additives that provoke inflammation such as carrageenan.
(Side Note: If you want to find out if you have inflammation in your body ask your doctor to order a C-reative protein blood test.)
The easy solution is to prepare your own nut milks at home! Below is a super simple almond milk recipe that I recently made. I find that homemade almond milk tastes even better than the store bought kind. So win, win!
Homemade Almond Milk
1 cup raw sprouted almonds
4 cups of water (water that you wouldn’t mind drinking)
1 tsp of vanilla
natural sweetener (I use 3 pitted dates, other options would be organic honey or maple syrup)
pinch of salt
(Note: you will need a blender and a cheesecloth or a nut bag for straining)
Use a large bowl and soak your almonds in just enough water to cover them. You will want to soak your almonds between 12-24hrs. I usually perform this step the night before I prepare almond milk. 1 cup of soaked almonds equates to about one mason jar of almond milk, so if you want to make enough for the family, double or triple the recipe. Soaking almonds breaks down the phytic acid.
After almonds are soaked, discard the water and thoroughly rise them under the sink. Per 1 cup of soaked almonds you will pour 4 cups of water into the blender. Add a pinch of salt, vanilla and the sweeter of your choice into the blender. Blend several times, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Next you will take a large bowl and lie a piece of cheesecloth over the bowl with about an inch or two of extra cloth hanging over the edge of the bowl. Pour the mixture from the blender into the bowl. The cheesecloth or nut bag should capture the thicker almond pieces. You can take the edges of your cheesecloth and wrap them together and squeeze the remaining liquid into the bowl.
Finally, check your almond milk for taste and pour your almond milk into mason jars and seal them tight. Homemade almond milk will last in the fridge for up to a week!
Note: You can save the almond pulp and use it to make almond meal.