Will Algae Milk Be the Next Big Dairy Alternative?

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A new “milk” product might be coming to town and you might be surprised where it comes from—algae. Yes, you heard me right, algae. A San Francisco-based company Solazyme, who is a leading innovator in microalgae, introduced algae milk at the Natural Products Expo West convention last week. The product was touted as being allergen-free; that is, free of dairy, soy, lactose, and nuts. This makes it potentially a great source for vegans and individuals on a limited diet.

So how is it made? From what I was able to gather from the company’s website and other online sources, it actually first comes from a flour that is made from microalgae grown in man-made industrial vats (instead of natural bodies of water). This flour was developed to help food manufacturers make healthier products with lower saturated fat and higher protein content, and it's one of many whole algalin flours within the company’s product line Almagine HP.

How will algae milk compare to other dairy alternatives? I am not 100% sure. It seems that is contains 50% protein, 20% fibers, 10% healthy lipids (microalgae in general is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids), plus several micronutrients and trace minerals. However, it's unclear what the exact nutrition breakdown per eight ounces of this “milk” is and what other ingredients might be added.

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What I do know is that presently we have a lot of dairy alternatives on the market: soy, rice, almond, and coconut milk. What I typically advise my patients is to choose a variety that has the most protein and least amount of sugar and saturated fat, meaning rice and coconut milks are not ideal. Personally I am also a cow’s nonfat milk fan and like to include that in the mix of healthy options.

I will be curious when and if algae milk actually makes it into our grocery stores in the near future. If it does, I will be sure to read the nutrition and ingredient label and report back. Until then, what are your thoughts?

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