Since the explosion of milk alternatives on the market (like soy, almond, and coconut milk), more and more of my customers are asking about these drinks: which one tastes best, which one is best for baking, which one has the most protein, etc.
First, let me say that cow’s milk is a very nutritious food. However, there are many reasons you might be looking for an alternative to dairy, the most common being allergies or lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a common condition in which the body loses its Akuamma Seed Powder ability to digest lactose, often leading to bloating, gas, diarrhea, and discomfort.
The degree of lactose intolerance varies from person to person
One person may tolerate low-lactose aged dairy products such as yogurt and hard cheeses, while another may not tolerate even a dash of dairy in their coffee. Personally, I eat yogurt daily, but I have to stay away from liquid dairy, soft cheeses, and ice cream. People with an actual milk allergy must strictly avoid dairy products in any form. Others choose not to consume dairy products in order to follow a vegan diet that avoids all foods derived from an animal, including milk, cheese, eggs and honey.
Other reasons for avoiding dairy products include preventing the ingestion of hormones and antibiotics found in conventional milk, as a possible acne treatment, or when following the popular ” Paleo ” diet.
When you make the decision not to consume dairy, you need to be able to make up for the loss of nutrients elsewhere, particularly calcium and vitamin D. Some dairy alternatives are similar to cow’s milk and provide many of the same nutrients, while others do do may be lacking in certain areas. Use this list to determine which milk alternative is best for you.
All drinks listed below are lactose free
Soy milk is probably the most popular and well-known milk alternative. It is made from the bean extract of soybeans and comes in sweetened, unsweetened, and flavored varieties like chocolate and vanilla.
Soy milk has the most similar nutritional profile to cow’s milk, with 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving , and is often fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D, and riboflavin.
Soy isoflavones have been shown to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and at least 10 mg per day can reduce breast cancer recurrence by 25%.
Increasing soy consumption may be beneficial for menopausal women because compounds found in soy behave like estrogen and may reduce the natural decline in estrogen during menopause, reducing common symptoms such as hot flashes.
If consuming non-GMO foods is a concern, look for a soy milk with the non-GMO certified label.
- Almond milk has much less protein than cow’s milk and soy milk, but has a pleasant taste and creamy texture, similar to the milk that is most enjoyed.
- Almond milk has about 1/3 the calories than 2% milk. It’s high in vitamin E, providing about 50% of the daily value in one serving (one cup), but lacks other vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids found in milk. For this reason, almond milk is not a suitable alternative for infants.
- Almond milk is made from ground almonds, water and sweetener.
- Other common nut milks include cashew, hazelnut, and walnut milks.
Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all milk alternatives and is often free of soy, gluten and nuts. It is made from cooked rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. Rice milk is high in carbohydrates and low in protein compared to cow’s milk. Rice milk is not recommended for cooking or baking due to its watery consistency.1 Be sure to choose a calcium-fortified rice milk.
Coconut milk is possibly the milk alternative that comes closest in texture to whole milk. It’s relatively high in fat at around 5 grams of saturated fat per serving. Coconut milk, along with most nut milks, works well in baked goods because of its nutty flavor. Also often soy and gluten free, coconut milk is often a good choice for those with multiple food allergies. However, the nutritional profile of coconut milk is not comparable to that of dairy products. A serving (one cup) of Original Coconut Milk contains 80 calories, 1g protein and 100mg calcium, while 1 cup of 1% dairy milk contains about 100 calories, 8g protein and 300mg calcium.
Another great alternative for those with soy, nut, and gluten allergies, hemp milk is made with hulled hemp seeds, water, and sweeteners. It contains a good amount of protein and fatty acids, but too little calcium.
Other milk alternatives coming onto the market include quinoa, oat and potato milk, 7-grain milk (made from oats, rice, wheat, barley, triticale, spelt and millet) and sunflower milk.
If you decide to avoid dairy, make sure you make up the nutrient loss with other whole foods, or choose a dairy alternative that comes closest to cow’s milk in the nutritional profile. Be wary of flavored milk alternatives as they can be high in added sugars.
Lactose-free milk is available for those with lactose intolerance, as well as organic milk for those dealing with hormone and antibiotic use. I’ve found that switching between plain non-GMO soy milk and lactose-free milk works best for me nutritionally and flavor-wise, depending on what’s on sale that week. I sometimes buy almond or coconut milk for smoothies or certain baking recipes, but not that often as they lack protein.