Attempted Unbiased Review of Almond Dream’s New Almond Milk Yogurt
Almond Dream, a leading marketer of Almond Milk, has just launched Version 2.0 of almond milk yogurt– the original versions having been discussed in this very forum in this prior post. I just picked up a container to test it out.
Where to begin? Well, let’s start on the inside and work our way to the outer label.
First impressions: the color is a bit on the dingy beige side (Vanilla flavor), and the texture is a little gelatinous but not entirely unpleasant, quite similar in fact to the Amande almond milk yogurt I reviewed last summer. The first bites are a little confusing… its almost as if there are two distinct taste sensations happening simultaneously: cloying sweetness and mild yogurt-like tang. As the bites progress, though, sweet sensations win out over tang, and the product delivers a decidedly Vanilla pudding impression. It was more dessert-y than I’d expect from a yogurt, but pleasant enough once you adjust your expectations (if you like Vanilla pudding, which I do).
The sweetness, of course, should tip you off to the nutritional composition of this manufactured foodstuff: it’s almost entirely carbohydrate. Of the 160 calories in the Vanilla flavor, ~120 calories (75%) come from added sugars and starches. The role of the starches–mostly tapioca and corn-derived–are to stabilize the product and give it a yogurt-ish texture since the almond “milk” base is essentially just almond-soaked water. The sugar content is high in absolute terms (considering that all of it is added), though not nearly as high as in many popular dairy-based yogurt brands (Stonyfield Farms and Yoplait, I’m talking about you!): 14g (3.5 tsps) in the plain variety and 18g (4.5 tsps) in the berry flavors. Despite the somewhat misleading and prominent callout on the front packaging that the product is “made from real almonds”, there is a meager 1g of protein per container (vs. about 8 in a dairy or soy based yogurt) and no Vitamin E to speak of. In other words, if you’re looking for the health benefits of almonds, look elsewhere. Like in a handful of actual almonds, for example. The yogurt is calcium-fortified, providing 20% of the daily value of calcium per container.
So what do we make of this newest entrant in the lactose-free yogurt wars?
There are a few types of people for whom I might consider recommending this yogurt for:
- Vegans or people with a milk allergy as a good source of calcium (children especially, who can generally afford a little extra sugar and carb in their diets and whose mothers lack convenient options for snacks and packed lunches)
- Lactose intolerant endurance athletes who need about 30g of quickly-digested, easily tolerated carb within 30 minutes of an event to boost blood sugar levels and spare that glycogen. This product fits that bill nicely.
- The plain flavor may work well for people who have IBS and are using soluble fiber therapy to help slow down their digestion (the product’s 3g of fiber appear to be from soluble sources, such as pectin, carob bean gum and tapioca fiber). I’d steer clear of the flavored varieties; they may be too sugary and could contribute to diarrhea in already-prone individuals.
There are other people for whom I would not recommend this product:
- Anyone watching their weight (too much high-glycemic carbohydrate and not enough protein won’t be as satisfying as a dairy-based yogurt and may contribute to the blood sugar peaks and valleys that drive hunger). As I say to my weight-loss seeking clients, “it’s not your best choice.” Stick to a plain or lower-sugar flavor (e.g., vanilla, coffee) dairy based yogurt.
- Diabetics or pre-diabetics (for the same blood sugar reasons as above. Note that a plain Almond Dream yogurt would count as 2 diabetic exchanges instead of 1 exchange like a typical plain dairy-based yogurt.
- The garden variety lactose intolerant folks. Nutritionally, we are better off choosing a higher protein, lactose-free dairy based yogurt; preferably an organic one without weird industrial ingredients. I know I must sound like a broken record here, but have you tried Green Valley Organics Lactose-free yogurt yet? I was a devoted customer of theirs way before I became a paid consultant, and I still spend my own hard-earned cash on their products. (Apparently, free yogurt is *not* one of the perks of being a yogurt company’s consulting dietitian. Grumble grumble.)
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