Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Cashew Milk Bad For You?



Short answer

Cashew milk is not bad for you and can be a healthy addition to your diet, especially for those who are lactose intolerant or seeking a dairy alternative. It is low in calories and, when fortified, can provide valuable nutrients like calcium and vitamins. However, it's low in protein and may contain additives or sweeteners in commercial versions. Opt for unsweetened varieties or make your own to avoid these. For individuals with nut allergies or kidney issues related to oxalates, cashew milk should be avoided.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Cashew Milk

When examining the nutritional content of cashew milk, it's essential to understand that this plant-based milk alternative offers a different set of nutrients than dairy milk or other non-dairy milks. While the exact nutrient content can vary depending on whether the cashew milk is homemade or commercially produced and fortified, below is a general breakdown of what you can typically expect from an 8-ounce (240-milliliter) serving of unsweetened cashew milk:

  • Calories: 25-50
  • Total Fat: 2-4 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 0-1 grams
  • Protein: 0-1 grams
  • Total Carbohydrates: 1-2 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 0-1 grams
  • Sugars: 0 grams (unless sweetened)
  • Calcium: Varies; often fortified to provide up to 45% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin D: Varies; often fortified to provide up to 25% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin B12: Varies; sometimes fortified
  • Magnesium: 2% of the Daily Value
  • Phosphorus: 2% of the Daily Value
  • Potassium: 2% of the Daily Value

Cashew milk is naturally low in protein and other essential nutrients when compared to cow’s milk. However, many commercial cashew milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 to help close the gap in nutritional differences. This makes fortified cashew milk a more comparable alternative to dairy milk in terms of micronutrient content, though it still remains significantly lower in protein.

It's also important to note that cashew milk contains little to no lactose, making it an excellent choice for individuals with lactose intolerance. Moreover, cashew milk is cholesterol-free and can be a good option for those monitoring their cholesterol intake.

For those concerned about additives, it's worth paying attention to the ingredient list on commercial cashew milk. Some brands may include additives such as stabilizers, emulsifiers, and sweeteners, which can affect the overall health profile of the product. To avoid these, some health-conscious consumers opt for unsweetened and unflavored varieties or make their own cashew milk at home.

For those with nut allergies, specifically to cashews, it is important to avoid cashew milk as it can trigger allergic reactions. Additionally, since cashews are high oxalate foods, individuals with a history of kidney stones may need to moderate their intake of cashew milk and other high oxalate foods.

When included as part of a balanced diet, cashew milk can contribute to one's overall nutrient intake. However, it should not be relied upon as the sole source of essential nutrients, especially protein, which is necessary for muscle maintenance and repair. Diversifying one's sources of nutrition is key to ensuring all dietary needs are met.

Finally, let's consider the environmental footprint of cashew milk. Generally, plant-based milks tend to have a lower environmental impact compared to dairy milk. Cashew milk production requires less water and land, and generates lower greenhouse gas emissions. These factors make cashew milk an environmentally friendly choice for those concerned with the sustainability of their food consumption.

Allergen Alert: Risks Associated With Tree Nuts

Tree nuts, including cashews, are among the top eight food allergens recognized globally. They are responsible for causing significant allergic reactions that can sometimes be severe or even life-threatening. When considering the inclusion of cashew milk in your diet, it's imperative to understand the potential risks associated with tree nut allergies.

Allergic reactions to cashews can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, cashew consumption can lead to anaphylaxis, a rapid-onset allergic reaction that can impair breathing, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, and affect heart rate. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment with epinephrine (often administered with an EpiPen) and follow-up care in an emergency room.

For individuals with a tree nut allergy, the mere trace amounts of nuts can trigger a reaction. This is why cross-contamination is a significant risk in facilities that process multiple types of nuts. If cashew milk is produced in a facility that also processes other tree nuts, there's a risk for cross-contact that could be dangerous for individuals with nut allergies.

Here's what you should consider regarding cashew milk and tree nut allergies:

  • Read Labels Carefully: Manufacturers are required by law to state on their packaging if a product contains tree nuts. However, the mention of possible cross-contamination is voluntary. Always read labels closely to ensure your safety.
  • Precautionary Measures in Production: When considering a brand of cashew milk, research their production practices. Search for companies that highlight dedicated facilities or stringent cleaning practices between processing different products to lower the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Home Preparation: If you prefer to avoid commercial products, making homemade cashew milk can reduce the risk of exposure to other allergens. However, be certain that the raw cashews have not been contaminated with other tree nuts during packaging or distribution.
  • Watch Out for Symptoms: Those with known allergies should be aware of symptoms such as hives, itching or swelling, particularly around the mouth or throat, difficulty breathing, and digestive issues. In the event of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

According to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the prevalence of tree nut allergies is increasing, adding to the importance of allergy-aware food choices. Anyone with a tree nut allergy should consult with a healthcare provider or allergist before introducing cashew milk to their diet.

Nonetheless, for individuals without a tree nut allergy, cashew milk can be a nutritious and safe alternative to dairy milk, providing various health benefits. Keep in mind that allergen-free alternatives exist for those with tree nut allergies, such as oat milk or soy milk, which might be suitable substitutes for cashew milk without the associated allergen risks.

Additives and Sweeteners in Commercial Cashew Milk

While cashew milk boasts several health benefits, it's important to address the potential downsides associated with additives and sweeteners in commercially-prepared cashew milk. These ingredients can often dilute the nutritional content and introduce elements that may be less desirable from a health standpoint.

Common Additives:

  • Emulsifiers: Substances like gellan gum and sunflower lecithin are added to improve texture and stability, ensuring that the milk doesn't separate. While generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort as a reaction to these ingredients.
  • Preservatives: To extend shelf life, preservatives such as potassium sorbate may be included. Though deemed safe in small quantities by health authorities, there is ongoing debate about the potential impact of long-term exposure to such additives.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Synthetic vitamins, such as Vitamin A palmitate, Vitamin D2, or B12, and minerals like calcium carbonate, are often added to fortify cashew milk, striving to match the nutritional value of cow's milk. However, the bioavailability of these nutrients may vary when compared to their natural counterparts.


  • Natural Sweeteners: Ingredients like cane sugar or honey are added for flavor. While they are natural, they contribute additional calories and sugars, potentially impacting blood sugar levels and calorie intake.
  • Artificial Sweeteners: These may include sucralose or aspartame, which are calorie-free but have been linked to changes in microbiota and insulin response in some studies. Their long-term effects on health are still controversial and a subject of ongoing research.
  • Sugar Alcohols: Erythritol and xylitol may be used as lower-calorie sweetening options. They tend to cause less of a spike in blood sugar but can cause digestive issues when consumed in large amounts.

Besides the additives and sweeteners, flavorings like vanilla or chocolate can also be added, which may increase sugar content or include additional additives.

It's crucial to read labels carefully and opt for unsweetened and minimally processed versions of cashew milk to avoid unwanted extras. Organic and non-GMO versions of cashew milk may also eliminate some concerns related to additives, but they typically still contain some form of stabilizer or emulsifier.

For a health-conscious consumer, it may be beneficial to consult the latest research or expert dietary advice when considering the impacts of these additives and sweeteners on overall well-being. The Nutrition Source from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health can be a valuable resource for up-to-date information on these topics. Furthermore, individuals with specific health conditions or dietary restrictions should consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to understand how the consumption of commercial cashew milk fits into their dietary plan.

How Cashew Milk Affects Digestive Health

Cashew milk, a creamy non-dairy alternative made from blended cashews and water, has become a popular choice for those seeking to avoid dairy. When it comes to digestive health, it presents both potential benefits and considerations. Understanding its impact can help individuals make informed choices about incorporating cashew milk into their diets.

Digestibility of Cashew Milk:

  • Cashew milk is naturally lactose-free, making it a suitable option for individuals with lactose intolerance.
  • It is also typically lower in protein than cow's milk, which may be easier on the digestion for some people.
  • The healthy fats in cashews can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and promote satiety, though excessive intake could stress the digestive system in sensitive individuals.

Prebiotic Content:

  • Unsweetened cashew milk can contain prebiotic components, such as dietary fiber, that support healthy digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • However, many commercial cashew milks are highly processed and may not contain significant amounts of fiber.
  • Reading labels is essential, as some products may add prebiotics or fiber to enhance health benefits.

Impact on Gut Health:

  • Some studies suggest that nut consumption, including cashews, may contribute to a healthier gut microbiome.
  • The fatty acids found in cashew milk have anti-inflammatory properties, which can benefit individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • However, since commercial products vary widely, some fortified versions may contain additives that could disrupt gut flora or trigger sensitivities.

Enzyme Inhibitors:

  • Cashews, like other nuts, contain natural compounds called phytates and tannins, which can act as enzyme inhibitors and reduce nutrient absorption.
  • Soaking cashews before making homemade cashew milk can reduce these compounds and may be easier on digestion for some people.

It is important to note that individual responses to cashew milk can vary based on personal digestive health and enzyme production. Some individuals may experience sensitivity to components in cashew milk, while others may find it a beneficial addition to their diet.

Choosing the Right Cashew Milk:

  • Opt for unsweetened and minimally processed cashew milk to avoid added sugars and preservatives that may have adverse effects on digestive health.
  • Consider choosing brands that enrich their cashew milk with additional nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, to maximize health benefits.
  • For those with nut allergies, it’s crucial to avoid cashew milk due to the risk of an allergic reaction.

In summary, cashew milk can be a digestive-friendly alternative to dairy milk for most individuals, particularly those with lactose intolerance or those seeking a lower-protein milk option. However, attention to product labels, potential additives, and individual sensitivities is critical to ensure that it supports digestive health optimally.

Cashew Milk and Its Role in Weight Management

When it comes to weight management, choosing the right types of food and drink can be as important as monitoring portion sizes and calorie intake. Cashew milk has gained popularity as a plant-based alternative to dairy milk, and many individuals looking to control or reduce their weight might consider incorporating it into their diets. Let's explore how cashew milk stacks up in terms of its potential impact on weight management.

Firstly, cashew milk is often lower in calories than traditional cow’s milk, as long as it is unsweetened. This can be an advantage for those on a calorie-restricted diet. For example, a cup of unsweetened cashew milk typically contains around 25 to 50 calories, compared to about 150 calories for whole cow’s milk. It's worth noting that the caloric content can vary significantly between brands and varieties, so reading nutrition labels is crucial.

It's also relatively low in carbohydrates and sugars, especially the unsweetened versions, reducing the risk of unnecessary calorie intake and potential spikes in blood sugar levels, which could be advantageous for people trying to lose weight and manage conditions like diabetes. Remember that sugars can often be hidden in flavored or sweetened varieties, so opt for unsweetened cashew milk to maintain better control over sugar and calorie consumption.

Another aspect to consider is protein content. Cashew milk generally contains less protein than dairy milk, with typically only 1 gram of protein per cup versus 8 grams in cow’s milk. Protein is essential for satiety and muscle maintenance during weight loss, so individuals may need to find alternative protein sources if they choose cashew milk over dairy milk.

Furthermore, the fat content in cashew milk is another factor to evaluate. Cashews are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are present in the milk as well. While these fats are beneficial for cardiovascular health, they are also calorie-dense, so moderation is key. The good news is that commercial cashew milk is often much lower in fat than whole cashews, due to the manufacturing process.

Additionally, fiber plays a role in weight management by increasing satiety and aiding digestion. Most commercial cashew milks contain little to no fiber, as it is lost during the filtration process. Therefore, incorporating other high-fiber foods into the diet is important to compensate for this.

Let’s break down the properties of cashew milk that relate to weight management:

  • Calorie content: Unsweetened varieties are low in calories, making them a viable option for calorie-restricted diets.
  • Sugar content: Unsweetened cashew milk has minimal sugars, but sweetened varieties can contribute to increased calorie intake and blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Protein content: Significantly lower than cow’s milk, may necessitate additional protein sources in the diet.
  • Fat profile: Contains primarily healthy fats, but in a diluted form compared to whole cashews. Still, it's important to consume in moderation.
  • Fiber content: Commercial cashew milk lacks significant fiber, necessitating other sources in the diet.

For those focused on weight management, unsweetened cashew milk can be an appropriate and beneficial addition to the diet when consumed mindfully, with attention to the overall nutritional balance of the diet. It should be consumed in conjunction with other nutrient-rich foods that can provide the protein and fiber absent in cashew milk. As always, individual nutritional needs and goals should be considered, and consulting with a healthcare provider or dietitian can help determine if cashew milk is the right choice for your weight management plan.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability of Cashew Production

The production of cashews, which are the key ingredient in cashew milk, has a complex relationship with the environment and sustainability. For consumers who are environmentally conscious, understanding the ecological footprint of their food choices, including plant-based milks, is increasingly essential. Here we'll explore the various factors that determine the environmental sustainability of cashew production.

Water Usage

Cashew trees are relatively drought-resistant and can grow in conditions that would be challenging for other crops. This quality suggests that cashew farming can have a lower water footprint compared to more water-intensive crops. However, it's important to consider the entire process of cashew milk production – from growing the trees to processing the nuts and ultimately producing the milk.

Land Use and Biodiversity

Cashew trees often grow in tropical climates where biodiversity is rich. The expansion of cashew plantations might lead to deforestation and loss of habitat if not managed responsibly. Sustainable farming practices, including maintaining varied ecosystems and preventing monoculture, are crucial in preserving the environment where cashews are cultivated.

Carbon Footprint

The carbon footprint of cashew production can vary widely. Factors such as transportation, farming methods, and processing technologies all play a role. While the transportation of cashews may contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, the actual processing of cashews into milk is likely to have a lower carbon footprint compared to dairy milk production.

Pesticides and Chemical Fertilizers

Conventional cashew farming may involve the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which can have adverse effects on surrounding ecosystems and waterways. Organic cashew production, which eschews such chemicals, offers a more sustainable alternative but may not be as widely practiced due to higher costs and lower yields.

Worker Conditions

While not an environmental concern per se, the sustainability of a food product also encompasses the social conditions under which it was made. Cashew nut processing is labor-intensive and has been associated with worker exploitation and poor labor conditions in some producing countries. Ethical sourcing and fair trade practices are therefore essential components of the overall sustainability of cashew milk production.

Efficiency and Waste Management

The production of cashew milk involves multiple steps, including shell removal, nut processing, and milk extraction. Each of these steps must be optimized to reduce waste and increase efficiency. In particular, the shells of cashew nuts contain a caustic liquid that can be hazardous, so proper handling and disposal are critical for environmental safety.

In conclusion, while cashew milk is a popular alternative to dairy milk and may have some environmental advantages, there are still numerous factors that need to be considered when assessing its overall sustainability. Consumers may look for certifications such as organic, fair trade, and rainforest alliance to help guide their purchasing decisions towards more sustainable options.

For a more comprehensive understanding of the environmental impact of cashew milk, research studies and environmental assessments provide valuable insights. The lifecycle analysis of cashew milk production, including its carbon, water, and ecological footprints, is an evolving field with ongoing studies aimed at improving sustainability measures in agricultural practices.

Frequently asked questions

Cashew milk is generally well-tolerated, but some may experience issues due to additives or the natural presence of phytates and tannins in cashews. Homemade cashew milk can be easier on digestion, especially if the nuts are pre-soaked.

Cashew milk generally has a lower environmental impact than dairy milk. It requires less water and land to produce, but considerations around pesticide use, biodiversity, and fair labor practices play into its overall sustainability.

Cashew milk is naturally low in protein, typically providing less than 1 gram per serving. Vegans and vegetarians should pair it with other protein-rich foods or choose fortified versions to meet their protein requirements.

Unsweetened cashew milk is preferred for weight management as it contains fewer calories and sugars than the sweetened variety, reducing the risk of excess calorie intake and potential spikes in blood sugar levels.

Ask a question about Cashew Milk and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • digestive discomfort from additives
  • allergic reactions
  • gi distress from sugar alcohols

Possible long-term side effects

  • potential nutrient deficiencies
  • risk of chronic diseases from sweeteners
  • kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals

Ingredients to be aware of


  • low calorie
  • low sugar
  • lactose-free
  • potentially fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • sustainable option

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk

  • Low-calorie alternative
  • Unsweetened flavor
  • Rich in nutrients
  • Dairy & Soy free
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-23-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-23-2024

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