Have you walked down the milk aisle at the market lately? Is it just me or does it seem like every week there is a new type of non-dairy milk being sold? With so many options it’s easy to get confused on which to buy for your specific dietary needs. Nearly 75% of adults experience some level of lactose intolerance, so finally there is a variety of non-dairy alternatives to choose from, which include almond, rice, coconut, soy, hemp, flax, and the newest on the block quinoa milk. Who knows what type will be next! But until then, I decided to lay these out for a side-by-side comparison and leave the taste test up to you! To try their real flavors opt for the unsweetened original versions to avoid packing in excess calories, sodium and sugar with the sweetened and flavored options.
Almond Milk: This is my favorite milk for many reasons. It’s mildly creamy and nutty with just the right consistency. It’s relatively high in calcium and vitamin E and low in calories, sugar, and fat. The fats in almond milk are the “good” monosaturated fats that are good for your heart. This milk is, however, low in protein. Almond milk pairs well with cereal, granola, coffee, and in smoothies!
Rice Milk: You’re least likely to be allergic to this one. It’s lowest in calcium and protein, but much higher in carbs, sugar and calories than the other options.
Coconut Milk: It’s rich in calcium, magnesium, selenium, potassium, iron, phosphorous and fiber. While it is high in saturated fat, this fat is made up of medium chain fatty acids, which the body prefers to turn into energy as opposed to fat. Coconut milk is actually the closest to breast milk when it comes to lauric acid, which is known to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Coconut milk keeps you feeling full for a long period of time and is great for an post-workout shake!
Soy Milk: Its protein makeup is comparable to that of cow’s milk, but is also a very common allergen and intake should be limited. Soy milk is low in carbohydrates and is cholesterol free. It has been shown to raise your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Like almond milk, it is high in calcium, but since soy crops are treated with pesticides and are genetically modified, I’d go for organic soy milk.
Hemp Milk: This milk is a great source for omega-3 fats, which in a single serving provides an entire days recommended intake amount. It’s low in calories and protein, but is much higher in fat than skim milk. Its calcium content is equivalent to that of skim milk, though.
Flax Milk: It’s completely plant based and naturally rich in omega-3s. It has as much calcium as cow’s milk, zero cholesterol and is the lowest in calories when compared to it’s other non-dairy alternatives. But, it doesn’t have any protein.