Cashew vs Almond Milk: Which is Healthiest?

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Cashew and almond milk are two of the easiest plant-based milks to find.

While almond milk is the current giant by far in terms of popularity, I’ve been seeing more and more cashew milk in stores.

plant milk sales

We’ll go through a detailed breakdown in this post, but in general they’re very similar in taste and nutrition, but cashews and almonds have different environmental and ethical concerns.

Taste Comparison: Cashew vs Almond Milk

Not surprisingly, both cashew milk and almond milk have a bit of a nutty flavor.

However, it’s very mild in both cases since either type of milk is made by simply blending together nuts and water (and removing most of the nut byproducts).

While it depends on the brand, the biggest taste differences in general are that:

  • Almond milk – More “watery” and with a weaker flavor.
  • Cashew milk – More “creamy” with a bit more of a nutty flavor.

It’s not a huge difference, but I believe most people will slightly prefer cashew milk over almond milk as it’s more similar to dairy milk.

Nutrition: Cashew vs Almond Milk

almond milk vs cashew milk

Let’s start by looking at the overall macronutrient breakdown for each type of milk.

To make things fair, I grabbed the nutrition facts data from unsweetened versions of each made by Silk.

 Silk Unsweetened Almond MilkSilk Unsweetened Cashew Milk
Serving Size1 Cup1 Cup
Calories (kcal)3025
Fat (g)2.52.0
Saturated fat (g)00
Carbohydrates (g)11
Sugar (g)00
Protein (g)1<1

The overall nutritional profiles for almond milk and cashew milk are virtually identical.

Both have:

  • Very low calories per serving
  • Calories mostly come from fat
  • Small amount of carbohydrates and protein

Note that this data is for unsweetened versions of each type. Flavored versions have at least a few grams of sugar added.

Which Is Healthier: Cashew Milk or Almond Milk?

Since plant-based milks are almost entirely water and a bit of a plant (nuts in this case), they typically don’t have much in the way of nutritional value.

In this case, Silk fortifies their non-dairy milks with some vitamins and minerals, because there’s really nothing significant from the base nuts.

 Silk Unsweetened Almond MilkSilk Unsweetened Cashew Milk
Vitamin A15%15%
Vitamin B120%0%
Vitamin D10%10%
Vitamin E25%25%
Calcium30%30%
Iron2%2%
Magnesium2%0%
Potassium2%0%

One final thing we should look at are the ingredients.

They are similar for both types, so let’s just look at the cashew milk ingredients:

Cashewmilk (Filtered Water, Cashews), Contains 2% or Less of: Almond, Vitamin and Mineral Blend, Salt, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Gellan Gum, Ascorbic Acid. 

On top of the cashews and water, there’s a very small amount of stabilizers, preservatives, and flavoring ingredients.

Almond and cashew milk are virtually identical in terms of how healthy they are. They are both low calorie drinks that offer a little bit in terms of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium.

Environmental Impact: Cashews vs Almonds

There are some significant environmental and ethical concerns over growing nuts, particularly at the high levels of demand that we have today.

Keep in mind that nut milks will have less of an impact than the nuts themselves since they are so diluted. The leftover pulp can still be used or sold, it’s not waste (as long as milk demand doesn’t outpace demand for other byproducts too much).

Emissions and Land Usage

Pretty much all types of non dairy milks are much better than dairy milk when it comes to both emissions and land usage.

plant milk environmental comparison

This is a benefit of nut milks, not a big concern.

Water Usage

One of the biggest issues with almonds is that they are mostly grown in California (which is essentially a desert), prone to droughts.

Combine this with the fact that almonds require a large amount of water, and there are serious sustainability concerns for the people of California.

Cashews require about a quarter of the water that almonds do, but they are also grown across the world in places where water use isn’t as big of a deal. Most cashews are grown in Vietnam, India, and the Ivory Coast.

Other Environmental and Ethical Concerns

What you may not know is that there’s a debate about whether or not almond milk is vegan.

And cashew production has its own ethical concerns.

The big issue for each is:

  • Almond production kills millions of bees each year – Bees are trucked in from across America to pollinate almonds. As a result of pesticides and accidents, approximately 30% of bee colonies die each year.
  • Cashew farmers often suffer terrible burns – Cashew harvesters are often exposed to acidic substances in the outer layers of cashews (cardol and anacardic acid). They aren’t provided gloves at many farms.

At least for cashews you can look for fair trade products, but there’s not much you can do to ensure that almond products were made ethically.

Summary: Is Cashew Milk or Almond Milk Better?

Cashew and almond milk are more similar than they are different.

Let’s summarize each main section:

  • Taste – Cashews are more creamy, but both have a slight nutty taste.
  • Nutrition – Basically identical in all aspects.
  • Environmental Impact – While both are better than dairy, almonds do use much more water, and are grown in water-stressed California.
  • Ethical concerns – Millions of bees die every year to pollinate almonds, while many cashew farmers suffer burns as a result of poor working conditions.

Overall, the only big differences is that cashew milk is a bit more sustainable and better for the environment. Cashew milk seems better to me ethically, especially if you buy from brands that support fair trade.

If you found this comparison useful, you might also want to see my coconut milk vs almond milk comparison.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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