Organic coconut milk and almond milk are common purchases at the health food store by those with dairy allergies. Usually, these people are savvy consumers who know enough nutritionally to avoid soy milk with its endocrine disrupting isoflavones and gastric inflaming phytates. Rice milk is also steadily declining in popularity as it is really not much more than a glass of sugar water nutritionally speaking.
Organic, unsweetened coconut milk and almond milk in cartons seem like great alternatives at first blush, but are they really as “healthy” as people believe?
Let’s take a look at the labels. I was shocked at what I found.
Check out the labels of the three brands I photographed. I checked all the brands, by the way, and they all contained the same dangerous additives I’m about to describe.
First, Vitamin A Palmitate is added, the synthetic version of Vitamin A. I personally avoid synthetic versions of Vitamin A like the plague. Every single multi-vitamin I’ve ever examined contains some form of synthetic A, including the so called “whole foods” multis.
Synthetic vitamins are the chemical mirror images of the real, natural versions. They can cause imbalances over time. Even small amounts of the synthetic fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A can prove toxic and should be strictly avoided!
The Organic Consumers Association warns that isolated vitamins such as those produced synthetically cannot be recognized or metabolized by the body in the same way as the natural version.
Large doses of natural vitamin A are well tolerated by the body as established by researchers decades ago, however. Traditional diets contain 10 times or more of the RDA of this nutrient with no ill effect. However, synthetic vitamin A is associated with birth defects and bone fractures. It has no benefit in the diet whatsoever.
The second really bad additive in these organic cartons of coconut milk and almond milk is Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is a form of the wonder vitamin that you should take great pains to avoid.
In all known cases of Vitamin D toxicity where the dose was intentional, Vitamin D2 was the culprit. By comparison, Vitamin D3 is much less toxic and requires an enormous or even an accidental dose to produce any toxic effect.
Vitamin D2 is manufactured industrially by irradiating yeast. It is dangerous for D2 to be added to any food product particularly if this product would be given to children, where toxicity symptoms would appear at much lower dosages.
None of the store brands of cartoned coconut milk or almond milk were free of these dangerous and synthetic versions of the fat soluble vitamins!
Notice also that carrageenan is present in 2 of the 3 products as well! Dr. Andrew Weil has been telling people to avoid carrageenan since 2002.
Carrageenan is so toxic and inflaming to the human digestive system that this food additive is formally classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) as a potential human carcinogen.
In my view, it would be a mistake to purchase and consume these items. They are in no way health promoting or beneficial, particularly for growing children!
Healthy Alternatives to Coconut Milk and Almond Milk in Cartons
Coconut milk and almond milk should be healthy and they can be if they are produced at home without these dangerous additives. I wrote an in depth post on how to easily make these nondairy beverages yourself. This recipe for wild rice milk is a good option as well.
Believe it or not, even organic coconut milk in BPA free cans would be a better alternative to cartons of coconut milk based on my label inspection!
Check out my video on homemade coconut milk and my article on how to make healthy DIY almond milk, fermented to add probiotics and enzymes to boost immunity and improve digestion.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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I’ was diagnosed with Crohn last year, and the worst that can happen wit it, it happened to me plus other things terrible because I was pregnant too. I had a hard time for recovery and after wrong advice even from Drs I learned to read every ingredient before eat anything. I was looking for this topic specifically because my A+ surgeron recommend these milks instead of lactose milk, but when I read the ingredients I knew it wasn’t good. I didn’t know about the problem with the vitamins, but when a lot ingredients are in a label and I don’t recognize them as natural it’s because they aren’t good. I’m not confirmed lactose intolerant, but I have read about the risks associated with the caw milk, dairy products as general, which I grown-up with, as a dayly meals. At this point I’m coming back to organic milk or lactose free caw milk (box milk), now I know the box it a problem too. My question is The lactose free milk has something similar added, is that safe?
Can you please comment on or research the Elmhurst brand of nut milks?
The ingredients are only nuts and water, but the milk is ultrapasteurized. Is it still nutritious? I avoid all ultrapasteurized dairy, following your advice.
The problem with these nuts milks even if the ingredients are good is that the packaging in aseptic plastic containers is toxic. The nut milks are poured at boiling hot temperature into the cartons that have a thin plastic lining and then the carton is sealed. This is how they achieve shelf stability and sterilized contents.
Leaching of chemicals into the nut milk from the heated plastic is almost guaranteed. All plastic leaches when heated to high temperatures even the so called “non-leaching” plastics.
I don’t think there are any good options for store-bought almond milk. If you want the benefits, you pretty much have to make it yourself. Great post!