While dairy milk sales are plummeting, America’s demand for plant-based milks has soared to record heights. Almond milk sales came out on top at $1.2 billion in sales in 2018 — a 10% increase from the previous year (1).
Whether you are avoiding gluten due to celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or personal preference, you may wonder — is almond milk gluten-free?
Thankfully, many almond milks are naturally gluten free. However, some almond milks contain ingredients that may trigger reactions in those with celiac disease or severe sensitivities.
Others may not contain gluten in the ingredients, but may be processed in a way that allows possible cross-contamination with gluten.
Here’s a breakdown on how to choose a healthy gluten-free almond milk, plus 10 of the best gluten-free almond milk brands.
How to shop for gluten free almond
Brands must follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements if they want to label their products as gluten-free.
According to the FDA definition, a product must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten — or 20mg of gluten per kilogram — to be labeled gluten-free. Additionally, the product cannot contain wheat, barley, rye, or other grains that contain gluten (4).
These rules apply to all certified gluten free labels as well as any product that states it is gluten-free anywhere on the packaging (5).
Keep in mind, manufacturers aren’t required to state whether a product is gluten-free on the label. This is optional.
Certain products — including almond milk — are often naturally gluten-free. Therefore, some almond milks may not be labeled as gluten-free even if they are.
For almond milks without a gluten-free claim, here are a few ingredients to look out for:
- Yeast extract, natural flavors, and rice syrup. Without a gluten-free label, you may need to contact the manufacturer or visit their website to confirm that there was no cross-contact between these ingredients and gluten during processing (6).
- Ingredients made from wheat, barley, or rye. Ingredients such as malt, malt flavor, malt extract, malt vinegar, brewer’s yeast, or anything with “wheat,” “barley,” or “rye” in the name or in parentheses after the name likely contain gluten. However, these ingredients are unlikely to be found in almond milk (6).
- Milk blends with possible gluten-containing ingredients. Unless specified as gluten-free, almond milks that are mixed with other plant-based milks (such as oat milk, rice milk, or soy milk) may have come into contact with gluten-containing grains during processing. However, almond milks blended with cashew and coconut milk are likely safe to consume (7).
Choosing a healthy gluten free almond milk
Not only are many almond milks suitable for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities, they are also highly nutritious.
In addition to the nutrients naturally present in almonds, almond milk is often fortified with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B12, and other nutrients (2).
With that being said, there are some less healthy ingredients commonly added to almond milk to look out for. For example, GreenChoice analyzed over 55,000 products and found that over 45% of non-dairy beverages contain added sugars — these supple energy but offer little to no other nutritional value (8).
When choosing a healthy almond milk that fits your dietary needs, it’s important to look out for:
- Added sugar. Common types of added sugars in almond milk include cane sugar, cane syrup, cane juice, maple syrup, and honey. Keep in mind, even “plain” varieties may contain added sugar. Instead, opt for “unsweetened” varieties to avoid added sugar (8).
- Carrageenan. Carrageenan is an additive frequently found in nut milks, used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier. While this ingredient is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, several animal studies suggest it may increase inflammation in the gut and worsen symptoms of digestive diseases such as ulcerative colitis (9). Additionally, limited research in animals has linked both food-grade and non food-grade carrageenan to colon cancer (10).
- Other emulsifiers. Emulsifiers such as lecithin, guar gum, locust bean gum, gellan gum, and other “gums” are commonly used in plant-based milks to prevent separation. Though these are recognized as safe by the FDA, emerging research in animals and test tube studies suggests emulsifiers may negatively impact gut health and contribute to digestive diseases. However, more studies are needed to determine the extent of these effects and whether emulsifiers pose a health risk for humans (11).
1. O Organics Original Unsweetened Almond Milk
Though O Organics Original Unsweetened Almond Milk does not bare a gluten-free claim on the packaging, its ingredient list is free of gluten.
Additionally, this gluten-free almond milk contains no added sugars or carrageenan. What’s more, it’s low in calories (only 35 per serving) and rich in calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D due to fortification (2).
2. Malk Unsweetened Pure Almond Milk
MALK Unsweetened Pure Almond Milk is made with only 3 simple ingredients — organic almonds, himalayan salt, and filtered water.
While it has the simplest ingredients of all the gluten-free almond milks on this list, it is not fortified. Therefore, it’s not as high in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D compared to other almond milks.
3. Califia Farms Organic Almond Homestyle Nutmilk
Made with a blend of almond, macadamia, cashew, and a touch of coconut cream, Califia Farms Organic Almond Homestyle Nutmilk is a rich take on almond milk.
It’s certified gluten-free, so you don’t have to worry about potential cross-contact with gluten during processing. It’s also free of added sugars, carrageenan, and other emulsifiers (13).
Like some others on this list, it is unfortified. Unfortunately, this means it is relatively low in nutrients found in other almond milks such as calcium and vitamin D.
4. New Barn Unsweetened Almond Milk
New Barn Unsweetened Almond milk is a simple gluten-free almond milk, made with just organic almonds, organic acacia gum, sea salt, and filtered water.
Though it contains the emulsifier acacia gum, it is free of carrageenan. Like others, it has zero grams of added sugar. This gluten-free almond milk is unfortified (14).
5. Orgain Unsweetened Vanilla Organic Protein Almond Milk
Orgain Unsweetened Vanilla Protein Almond Milk is gluten-free and packed with protein.
Each 1-cup serving supplies 10 grams of protein, or 20% of the recommended daily value (DV). It’s also fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus making it an excellent substitute for cow’s milk (15).
Like others on this list, it is carrageenan free. What’s more, the unsweetened variety contains no added sugars.
6. Blue Diamond Organic Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk
Blue Diamond Organic Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk is a gluten-free almond milk with a splash of coconut for extra flavor.
As it’s unsweetened, it contains no added sugars. It’s also free of carrageenan.
7. Simple Truth Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk
At less than $2.00 per carton, Simple Truth Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk is one of the most affordable gluten-free almond milks on this list.
Not only is this almond milk low-calorie, it’s rich in vitamins A, D, and E due to fortification. Unlike others on this list, it is also fortified with vitamin B12. However, it’s relatively low in calcium compared to other fortified almond milks on this list (17).
Though it contains other emulsifiers, it is free of carrageenan. Like others, it does not contain any added sugars.
8. Silk Unsweetened Original Almond Milk
Silk Unsweetened Original Almond Milk is labeled as gluten-free. At only 30 calories per cup, it’s the lowest calorie almond milk on the list.
9. So Delicious Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk With Cashew
So Delicious Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk With Cashew is labeled as gluten-free.
This unique blend of almonds and cashews is low in calories and free of added sugars and carrageenan. However, this gluten-free almond milk is not fortified with vitamins or minerals (19).
10. Blue Diamond Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Breeze
Blue Diamond Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Breeze is our top rated chocolate gluten-free almond milk.
Our top rated gluten free almond milks
GreenChoice, PBC has evaluated and rated more than 340,000 food & beverage products across hundreds of attributes related to diet, health, and sustainability. Easily find the best products for you, the planet, & your budget. Download the free GreenChoice app for Apple iO or Android!