Almond Based Dairy Alternatives

Technical information

Almond-based products that are seeing very dynamic global growth in the plant-based dairy alternatives market.

Almond nuts are rich in mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids (mainly oleic and linoleic acids), vegetableproteins, dietaryfibre, phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals; most of those compounds have antioxidant properties and have a beneficial effect on plasma lipid profile, low-density lipo protein oxidation and inflammatory processes.

Benefits of almonds

•Almond milk is a good source of unsaturated fats, is rich in proteins and omega fatty acids, and is derived from natural almond oils. It helps in improving vision, strengthens the bone, maintains cardiovascular health, building strong muscles, aids in controlling the blood pressure, and can also be used as a substitute for breast milk.
•Almond milk aids in improving the immune function and helps in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Moreover, it contains no hormones and is prescribed by dermatologists to patients with acne.
•It is almond-based products that are seeing very dynamic global growth in the plant-based dairy alternatives market. To make almond milk, toasted and ground almonds are mixed with water. Almond “milk” is cholesterol-and gluten-free, low in fat and sugar, the protein content is comparatively low (0.5 grams per 100 ml).
•Almond nuts are rich in mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids (mainly oleic and linoleic acids), vegetable proteins, dietary fibre, phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals (Yada et al. 2011); most of those compounds have antioxidant properties and have a proven beneficial effect on plasma lipid profile, low-density lipoprotein oxidation and inflammatory processes, among others (Liu, 2012; Egertet al., 2011; Jones et al., 2011). Moreover, almond nuts have a high K/Na ratio and the carbohydrates present have a low glycemic index (suitable for diabetics) (Li et al., 2009).

Chemical composition of peeled almond nut and almond milk.

Almond-Based Yogurt Alternative

Silk® Plain Almond Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative

INGREDIENTS: Almond milk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Contains 2% or less of: Calcium Citrate, Pectin, Live and Active Cultures, Vitamin D2.

Abbot Kinney’s Almond Start Almond Based Yoghurt

INGREDIENTS: Water, organic almonds 15%, thickener (organic tapioca flour),yogurt cultures (S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, B. lactis).

Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt

NGREDIENTS: almondmilk (water, almonds), locust bean gum, xanthan gum, agar, live active cultures (S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria).

Optimization of almond milk processing

Almond milk has a low carbohydrate content (around 0.3g/100mL of almond milk), this low carbohydrate content affects directly the acidification level that can be attained, thus, carbohydrate supplementation of almond milk (e.g. with glucose, sucrose or fructose), prior to the inoculation is needed to improve the growth and acidification of the culture blend.

Since most almond proteins belong to the oleosin family, with low-molecular weight and poor watersolubility, this low water affinity of proteins contributes to the poor stability of the obtained emulsions and a certain degree of protein flocculation could be observed due to their hydrophobic character.
The wide isoelectric point (IP) range of amandin (4.55-6.3) shows the high conformational complexity of this almond protein.

Vegetable milks are emulsified products (the lipid content is dispersed in an aqueous phase), which means they are thermo-dynamically unstable and the selection of proper  processing conditions plays a key role in its final stabilization. Indeed, different process steps, such as homogenization and heat treatments, usually produce changes in the arrangement of components, thus leading to modifications in the physical stability of the product.

Microstructure and Macrostructure of almond milk untreated (A), low heat treated (LH)(B), homogenised @ 172MPa (MF)(C) and treated by combined MF-LH (D)

The physical and structural almond-milk properties are affected by the use of high pressure homogenization and heat treatments.

•Raw almond milk is an unstable dispersion, which could be physically stabilized by the combination of low heat treatment withhigh homogenization pressures.
•Figure shows both the microstructure and initial macrostructure of almond milk, both untreated and submitted to different treatments (HPH and/or heat treatments). The oil droplets
•and protein bodies dispersed in the serum phase are clearly distinguished in the microstructure of untreated milk (A). A certaindegree of protein flocculation was observed due to their hydrophobic character, since most almond proteins belong to the oleosinfamily, with low-molecular weight and poor water solubility. This low water affinity of proteins contributes to the poor stability of the obtained emulsions.
•(B) At low temperature heat treatment (LH) at 85°C for 30 min, the majority of the almond proteins were aggregated. In many cases, protein aggregates included oil droplets which induce the formation of a weak gel, as was observed in the macrostructure.
•The 1720 bar treatment greatly reduced the size of the fat globules (C). Nevertheless, most of the small particles were occulated through protein bridges, which explains the poor stability of the emulsion despite the fact that particles are small in size.The poor stabilizing properties of the protein, associated with its high degree of hydrophobicity, is the cause of the flocculation process and subsequent phase separation, as was observed in the micrographs.
•The 85°C for 30 min and 1720 bar (MF3LH) treatment caused the formation of big oil droplet-protein aggregates which appear embedded in a continuous protein matrix, thus enhancing the physical stability of the milk (D). This new structure is the resultof the combined effect of both treatments.
•MF reduces droplet size and promotes partial protein solubilisation and the heat treatments provoke protein denaturation and aggregation, giving rise to the formation of a 3D network which entraps big aggregates of the small protein-lipid particles.
•The combined effect of homogenisation and thermal treatment promotes a weak gel formation (related to the formation of clusters), mainly associated with the protein solubilisation and subsequent denaturation during the thermal treatment, which contributed to the stabilization of the particle dispersion, thus avoiding phase separation during the product storage.

The use of high pressure homogenization (620–1720bar) contributes to a better stability of the almond milk (reduces droplet size and promotes partial protein solubilization) and the 85°C for 30min thermal treatment provokes protein denaturation and aggregation, giving rise to the formation of a 3D network which entraps big aggregates of the small protein-lipid particles.

The combined effect of high homogenization pressures and low heat treatment promotes a weak gel formation that is able to retain the water content of the almon dmilk (related to the formation of clusters), mainly associated with the protein solubilization and subsequent denaturation during the thermal treatment, which contributes to the stabilization of the particle dispersion, thus avoiding phase separation during the product storage.
Despite the pH, the final acidity of fermented almond milk is lower than standard yoghurt, considering that almond milk has a lower buffering capacity than cow milk.

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