Is Almond Milk Low FODMAP?

Lactose-free milk is often suggested for low FODMAPers. But what if you don’t eat dairy at all? There are lots of plant-based milks these days, but not all of them are low FODMAP. And the ones that are vary greatly in nutritional quality. Here we’ll take a closer look at almond milk and whether it’s a good low FODMAP option.

Almond milk is low FODMAP. The only known FODMAP in almond milk is galactooliogsaccharides (GOS). A standard 8 ounce serving of unflavored, unsweetened almond milk contains around .04 grams of GOS, far below published low FODMAP guidelines.

In this post we’ll discuss why almond milk is low FODMAP when almonds are high FODMAP. We’ll also look at the nutritional quality of almond milk. While almond milk is suitable for a low FODMAP diet, it doesn’t have the strongest nutritional profile. We’ll go over that, then look at the galactooligosaccharide (GOS) content of almond milk in more detail.

Mature almonds on tree branch, with hard shell visible.
Almonds are actually a stone fruit most closely related to peaches and apricots.

What is Almond Milk?

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In the United States, we tend to think of almond milk as relatively new, since it’s only been widely available in grocery stores in the last two decades. However, almond milk is an ancient product. It was first used in Europe in the 13th century, and some believe it was used in the Middle East much earlier than that.1

These days, there are two ways to make almond milk. The first is wet processing, in which whole almonds are soaked in water, then ground. The second is dry processing, which begins not with whole almonds, but with almonds that have already been processed into powder.2,3

Most recipes for homemade almond milk use wet processing, and the industrial production process is very similar. So, we’ll look at wet processing in more detail below. Just know that in both types of processing, ground almonds are mixed with water, strained, then diluted again with water.

Almonds soaking in water of blender bowl, in preparation to make homemade almond milk.
Whether homemade or commercial, the first step in making almond milk is to soak nuts in water.

How is Almond Milk Made?

To make wet processed almond milk, almonds are first soaked in water to soften them. The soaked almonds are then drained and ground. Unlike cashew and macadamia nuts, which can be ground into a smooth puree fairly easily, almonds are a hardier nut. So, after the initial grinding phase, the skins and other tough parts are strained out. Then the almonds are ground into a paste-like consistency.

In the final step, the almond paste is thinned with water. Because almonds lack the thickness and texture of dairy milk, an emulsifier like lecithin is often added at this point.4 Other things may be added at this stage, too, such as vitamins and sweeteners.

In the final step, the product is treated to ensure safety before being packaged. Some almond milk is treated with heat, which produces a shelf stable product. Other almond milk is pasteurized, which means it will need to be kept refrigerated.2,3

Straining ground almonds in cheesecloth, making homemade almond milk.
Straining liquid from when making homemade almond milk.

Nutritional Value of Almond Milk

Regardless of which processing method is used, almond milk is generally classified as a highly processed or ultra-processed food.5,6 This is one reason the healthfulness of almond milk is sometimes questioned. The other major reason is lack of nutritional value.

Honestly, there are very few naturally occurring nutrients in almond milk. Like most plant-based milks, almond milk is fortified with added nutrients because it lacks so many of them, especially important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.5,7

Almond milk in particular is criticized for its low protein content.8,9 The following table shows the protein content of dairy milks and some popular plant-based milks. You can see that almond milk has very little protein compared to dairy and soy milk, another popular plant-based alternative.

Protein in Dairy Milks and Plant-Based Milks

Milk TypeProtein (grams)
Cow milk8.14
Goat milk8.30
Almond milk1.62
Coconut milk .51
Oat milk1.96
Rice milk.69
Soy milk6.81
Protein in dairy milks and milk alternatives, per cup.7
Data is for whole (full fat) dairy milks. Data for goat milk provided by Ciqual.

Almonds contain a fair amount of protein (and FODMAPs) in larger quantities. For example, 100 grams of almonds, about 3.5 ounces, has just over 21 grams of protein.7 The reason almond milk has so little protein is because it contains very little almond material.

A recent study found that a standard serving of 8 ounces of almond milk contains around 9 grams of almonds, which is equivalent to 5 or 6 whole almonds. This was the lowest of any plant-based milk tested. By contrast, 8 ounces of soy milk contains 22 grams of soy and 8 ounces of oat milk contains 33 grams of oats.10

Antinutrients in Almond Milk

Additionally, research has shown that many plant-based milks have what scientists call “antinutrients,” which decrease the body’s ability to digest and absorb certain essential minerals. The biggest concern with regard to almond milk is the presence of oxalates.5 Among the most popular plant-based milks, almond milk has the highest concentration of oxalates.11

Oxalates are a type of acid that occurs naturally in foods, especially plants and nuts. In our digestive tracts, oxalates can bind to important minerals and keep our bodies from digesting them. However, the effect of this varies based on the types of foods consumed.12 That said, oxalate build up can cause real issues when oxalates clump together with calcium to form kidney stones.13

So, does this mean almond milk is unhealthy? Not necessarily. Soy milk will provide more protein, but I know not everyone can or wants to include soy in their diet. Conversely, some people can’t use almond milk due to nut allergies. All milks have positives and negatives.

Small pile of unshelled almonds on dishcloth.
The hard outer shell of almonds, which resemble a peach pit, is known as a pyrene.

Benefits of Almond Milk

While almond milk may lack protein, it does have some beneficial properties. As mentioned, most almond milk is fortified with nutrients. Fortified almond milk is a good source of calcium and vitamins D and E.

In addition, compared to cow’s milk and soy milk, unsweetened, unflavored almond milk is lower in calories, carbohydrates, fat and cholesterol.7 So, almond milk may be a good option for those who must follow calorie, carb or fat restricted diets.

Now that we’ve looked at almond milk in some detail, let’s get down to the business at hand, looking at the FODMAP content of almond milk.

FODMAPs in Almond Milk

The FODMAP of concern in almond milk is galactooligosaccharides, which is abbreviated GOS. Without getting really technical, let’s look a bit more at what GOS are.

What are Galactooligosaccharides?

Like all FODMAPs, galactooligosaccharides are carbohydrates. In this case, GOS are carbohydrates consisting of two sugars: glucose and galactose. A GOS is a string of galactose molecules with a glucose stuck on the end.14

In general, our bodies don’t have trouble digesting glucose and galactose. But when these two sugars combine, it can create problems.

It’s important to remember that no human can properly digest GOS. They pass through our digestive system intact, which means everyone who eats GOS will experience side effects like gas. But, in people with more sensitive digestive systems, even small amounts of GOS can cause excessive gas and bloating. That’s why they’re listed as a FODMAP.

For example, the milk sugar lactose is also a combination of glucose and galactose. To create lactose-free versions, manufacturers add the lactase enzyme to diary products. Lactase breaks down the bonds in lactose, separating it into glucose and galactose. This is why lactose intolerant people can drink lactose-free milk. They can’t digest lactose, but can digest the sugars that create lactose.

As this example shows, the issue isn’t glucose and galactose specifically, but rather, how they combine. Our bodies just don’t make the enzymes needed to break the bonds between these sugars. So, just like many people can’t naturally break up the glucose and galactose in lactose, we can’t break up the glucose and galactose in GOS, either.

Okay, now that we know what GOS are, let’s learn about the GOS content of almond milk.

Galactooligosaccharides in Almond Milk

Galactooligosaccharides aren’t typically included in food analyses. It’s much easier to find data on other FODMAPs, like fructose and lactose. Fortunately, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started including information on GOS in some food analyses. I was able to use that, plus other published studies, to get quality data on the GOS content of almond milk.

A recent study on oliogosaccharides in plant-based milks included an analysis of eight of the most popular almond milks in the United States. The study looked specifically at plain, unsweetened shelf stable almond milks, including brands like Silk, Blue Diamond and So Delicious, and tested the oligosaccharide content of the milks using several different methods.

Large glass of almond milk in foreground with small bowl of almonds in background.
Another benefit of almond milk: it contains fewer oligosaccharides than soy milk.

The study averaged the results for all the milks over the different testing methods and found that almond milk has an average oligosaccharide content of .12 to .19 milligrams per gram.15 Converting this to the more common measure of ounces, an 8 ounce glass of almond milk contains an average of .027 to .043 grams of oligosaccharides.

These values generally line up with those reported by the USDA, which conducted the same test, but used only one testing method. The USDA lists the oligosaccharide content for 8 ounces of plain, unsweetened shelf stable almond milk as .045 grams.16

The best data currently available, then, shows that unflavored, unsweetened almond milk has about .04 grams of oliogosaccharides per serving. This is far below published low FODMAP guidelines, which state that total oligosaccharide content should be less than .30 grams per serving for nut-based products.17 So, almond milk is well suited for those eating low FODMAP, provided they don’t have an almond allergy.

Just keep in mind this data is for unflavored, unsweetened, shelf stable almond milk. It doesn’t appear refrigerated almond milk has been tested, but it likely contains similar levels of oligosaccharides. The addition of flavors, like chocolate or vanilla, could introduce other FODMAPs into almond milk. So could the addition of sweeteners. Some natural sweeteners contain fructose, while some artificial sweeteners contain polyols. So, if you use flavored almond milk, be sure to read labels carefully.

Conclusion: Almond Milk is Low FODMAP

Plain almond milk contains very low levels of oligosaccharides and no other known FODMAPs, so is a good option for low FODMAPers who don’t have nut allergies or issues with oxalates.

That said, almond milk has a weaker nutritional profile than lactose-free cow’s milk and some other plant-based milks. You’ll get more nutritional bang for your buck, so to speak, with soy milk. But, if you can’t or don’t wish to include soy in your diet, almond milk may be a good alternative.

If you want to cook with almond milk, many sources report that you can substitute it one-for-one for cow’s milk.18,19 However, the flavor and texture of the final product may be different than if you’d used cow’s milk. There aren’t many low FODMAP baking cookbooks, but you might have some luck finding recipes that use almond milk in vegan baking books.

Research is just now beginning to tell us more about the FODMAP content in almond milk. Unfortunately, most other plant-based milks aren’t receiving this kind of attention. There’s good data on soy milk, but popular alternatives like cashew, rice and coconut milk haven’t been subjected to extensive testing.

So, if you’re experimenting with low FODMAP milk options, at this point, almond and soy milk seem like your best bets, provided you don’t have health issues that prevent you from using them.


Posts Related to “Is Almond Milk Low FODMAP?”

If you’re interested in learning more about how almond milk stacks up against dairy milks, I have several posts that may be of interest. The first is my comprehensive post on cow’s milk.

Some low FODMAPers also experiment with goat milk. While goat milk isn’t low lactose, it does have less lactose than cow’s milk and almost no A1 casein protein, thought to be the cause of milk allergy. You can learn more in my write-up of goat milk.

I also mentioned using almond milk in cooking. You can get an idea of how almond milk compares to buttermilk, which is also a common cooking ingredient, in this post on buttermilk and FODMAPs.


About the Author

Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.

Disclaimer: the author is not a certified medical professional. Opinions expressed and content contained on this website are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Exercise caution and due diligence when using this site and the information contained herein and understand your experiences may vary.

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