First it was almond milk then oat. Now, the latest dairy-free vegan milk to become trendy is pili milk. is here. But is it actually good for you or just another health food blunder? Dietitian Melissa Meier shares her verdict.
Another day, another plant-based milk rears its head on the alternative milk shelf. This time, it’s pili nut milk. If your first thought was ‘what on Earth is that?!’, I’m with you.
I’d never heard of pili nuts before, either – but here’s what I’ve found, and my verdict on whether or not you should be drinking ‘mylk’ made from them.
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What are pili nuts?
Pili nuts are grown in Northern Australia, South East Asia and Papua New Guinea. They reportedly look and taste like the much-loved almond, so keep your eye out because they could go mainstream soon.
Pili nuts are rich in energising iron and zinc for wound healing – but that’s not particularly surprising given that many other nuts also boast these nutritional qualities.
Besides that, there’s not a lot of sound scientific information on the nutritional composition of pili nuts… but my best bet is they have a similar macronutrient profile to other nuts: low in carbs, high in fat and a source of plant-based protein.
Is pili nut milk good for you?
You might be surprised to learn that nut and grain based milks are actually mostly water. That’s because they’re made by soaking the nuts or grains in water and then blitzing the mixture together (and in some cases, a bunch of additives are then thrown into the mix). The end product is typically less than five per cent nut or grain – so you’re really not getting much nutritional bang for your buck.
When you compare many of the trendy new ‘mylk’ alternatives to traditional dairy or soy, there’s a pretty stark contrast in terms of nutritional quality. Cow’s milk is naturally rich in low-GI carbs to balance blood sugars, hunger-busting protein and bone-strengthening calcium. Soy milk also provides low-GI carbs, protein and, if you’re lucky thanks to fortification, calcium. Nut and grain based milks, however, are usually lacking in these important nutrients because, after all, they’re mostly water.
The verdict on pili nut milk
Yes, nuts are incredibly good for you, rich in heart-healthy fats, hunger-busting protein and gut loving fibre – but that doesn’t mean ‘mylk’ made from them is the most nutritious choice. Of course, for those who can’t or choose not to have dairy or soy, nut and grain based milks are a convenient option. If they’re fortified with calcium, that’s even better.
If you’re simply choosing a nut-based milk because you think it’s healthier, however, it’s time to think again. By all means, consume all nuts (including pili nuts if you can get your hands on them) in your diet in their whole form as a snack or addition to a healthy meal – I’ve got absolutely nothing bad to say about that.
But don’t be fooled by the health halo of new, trendy nut ‘mylks’, because more often than not, they don’t hit the mark in terms of nutrition.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram.