Sanitarium has recently released a cashew nut based milk onto the New Zealand market but how does it compare to the real thing and other dairy free milks on the supermarket shelves?
Sanitarium's new So Good Cashew Milk comes in an original and unsweetened variety. Both milks contain water, cashew nuts, vegetable gum and an emulsifier as well added vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, riboflavin and thiamine to mimic cow's milk. However, these added nutrients may not be as well utilised by the body as when they are found naturally.
The original cashew milk contains added sugar, with every 250mL serve containing almost 2 teaspoons of cane sugar which is comparable to most other sweetened nut milks.
To meet the NZ Ministry of Health healthy eating guidelines for milk and milk equivalence you would need to drink 2 glasses per day which would mean consuming an additional 1kg of sugar every 2 months!
On the other hand, the unsweetened cashew nut milk contains no added sugar making it a much better option.
Both cashew nut options as well as other nut, rice, oat and coconut milks contain very little protein making them unsuitable for infants and small children who need the higher protein content to support growth and development. If cow's milk is not an option and your child is old enough to move onto an alternative milk then a calcium fortified soy milk is the best option as its protein, fat, vitamin and mineral content is closer to that of cow's milk.
Whilst nuts are a good source of nutrition, every 100mL of nut milk contains approximately two nuts. Therefore to get the health benefits of eating nuts you would be much better off having a small palm sized portion of nuts as a snack instead.
For those of you with an allergy to almonds, it is important to note that both Sanitarium's Cashew Milks contain almonds as well as cashew nuts.
As for the taste and mouthfeel. Of course this comes down to individual preference. Personally I enjoyed it. It is thicker than some other milks, giving it a creamier mouthfeel. The cashew nuts give a nice flavour without it being bitter.
The Bottom Line
Unless you have a lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy or avoid cow's milk for cultural reasons, cow's milk is the best option for both adults and children. If your child needs to avoid cow's milk and they are old enough to move onto an alternative milk then soy milk fortified with calcium is the best option. Nut, rice, oat and coconut milks should be avoided in infants and small children due to their low nutrient content. For adults needing to use plant based milks, ensure they are fortified with calcium. Unsweetened varieties are the best option however if you have more of a sweet tooth try mixing them half and half initially until your taste buds adjust.