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Why Cashew Milk Is Taking Over the Dairy Aisle

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To spot a trend in 2016, all you have to do is see what's happening on Pinterest. Case in point: The site has seen a 40 percent jump in users pinning, sharing, and liking photos and videos involving cashew milk, which has us thinking it just might be the new "it" nut milk. (Though there are 13 types of milk that do your body good.) 

If you're tempted to make the switch from the ever-popular almond milk, though, don't do it solely for health reasons. When almond and cashew milk go head-to-head, they're about the same nutrition-wise, says Ashley Pettit, a holistic nutritionist and fitness chef. "Unsweetened cashew milk has an incredibly low calorie profile, but it's only five calories less than almond milk," she says. Unsweetened cashew milk generally has 25 calories per cup compared to the 30 found in unsweetened almond milk. Fat and other nutrients, like calcium and vitamins D, E, and A, are about equal too.

Of course, many people turn to plant-based milk over cow's milk because of what's not in them. Cashew milk, for example, is free of lactose, dairy, soy, and gluten. On the flip side, though, it's also lacking in protein. Regular 1 percent milk has eight grams of protein per cup, whereas nut milks only have one measly gram. (Want more protein? Bake these 3 easy-to-make protein balls and you're set.) 

If you can't decide between almond and cashew though, gulp down a small glass of each. The biggest difference between the two is taste. "Cashew milk is less nutty than almond and a little more sweet," says Pettit, making it ideal for those looking for a milk that's comparable to the cow's version they're likely used to. Cashew milk also tends to be creamier and thicker, with a coconut milk-like consistency and subtle taste that won't overpower whatever foods you mix in. "It lets other flavors come to the forefront, so if you're making a smoothie with fruit you don't have a nut flavor overwheming the drink," says Pettit. (Speaking of smoothies, here's 17 recipes that start your morning off right.) 

And since Pinterest is the spot for all things DIY, it makes sent that cashew milk is a big hit on the platform—it's super easy to make at home. With almond milk, you need to filter out the almond bits with a cheesecloth or dish towel, but for this you can simply blend soaked nuts with water, no straining required. It will contain more calories and fat than what you'd find in the store options—about 180 and 16 grams per cup, respectively—but it also packs in more of the beneficial nutrients you need, like protein and fiber. "When you're buying any milk at a store, it's processed more than you have the ability to process at home, and those processes cut out some of the fat," says Pettit. Your homemade version may be richer than store-bought varieties though, so you could get away with using less of it, she adds.

If you decide to go the store-bought route, make sure you choose unsweetened varieties and peek at the ingredient list to make sure there aren't any added sugars and oils, which can drive up the calorie count. Now, who's ready for a glass? 

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