When I was little, my mom used to force a glass of milk down my throat every morning. I never liked its taste, in fact it made me puke! Sounds weird? Well, not to those who share my plight.
Its sad for those who’s got an allergy, or are lactose intolerant, or may be, like me, simply don’t like its taste, have to live without its benefits.
I was young at that time, so I used to hate my mom for doing that to me, but I know now, she made me drink it only because of its nutritional gifts, all the more reason for children to have it. Its like, as if you are programmed to drink milk, not consuming it could be a crime, at least according to my parents!
So, let’s not commit this crime and try to reap the dairy benefits by venturing into the world of milk alternatives. Not trying to keep your hopes high, there are still non dairy options that you could give a try, through which can keep up with your body’s need of nutrients.
One of the most common nut milks, cashew and walnut milk among others, almond milk is made of ground almonds and water. It is popular because it is taste friendly and comes in variety of flavors like vanilla, coconut, sweetened and unsweetened.
It is also very less in calories,( 17 calories in 100g) compared to whole milk (60 calories per 100g), so, a good option for those are looking to cut down on fat.
Moreover, it is high in vitamin E, an anti-oxidant that keeps your cells going. Want more? Well, it contains zero cholesterol and saturated fat!
On the downside, it is low in protein, just about 1g per serving, compared to whole milk, which contains 3.4g per 100g.
So, you need to find other sources in your diet to avoid its deficiency. You can also add half a spoon protein powder in it to make up for the loss. However, it is a costlier alternative to milk as almond is a climate dependent crop.
Great choice for those with weight loss plans. Healthy, taste friendly, because of its nutty flavor and creamy texture, and the fact that it doesn’t taste like cow’s milk, is a winner for me since I’m not a dairy fan.
Found in almost every supermarket in the US, Soy milk is consumed widely as a dairy alternative. It is made from soaking dry soy beans and filtered water, hence, a preferred choice for vegans and also those who are lactose intolerant.
The part that makes it a strong contender to cow’s milk is that soy milk ranks equal in protein content. So, this would be your pick in case your priority is bone and muscle growth. Soy milk is also rich in iron and potassium, much lower in sodium than almond milk and cholesterol free.
Soy milk contains more calories(54 in 100g) than dairy milk(42 in milk). It doesn’t contain enough calcium, so, you should go for brands or beverages that are fortified with calcium and other minerals. Also, most of soy milk products in US, are genetically modified.
Soy milk has become controversial in regard to its phytoestrogen rich content, a substance found to be linked to both cancer growth and prevention.
An excellent choice to meet your protein requirements. If you wish to consume soy milk, switch to organic, so as to preserve its proteins and fortify it with added calcium.
This non-dairy milk is made by blending brown rice with water. Carbohydrates turn into sugar during this process which offers a natural sweet taste to this beverage. Lactose intolerant people tend to pick up this one too, as it is lactose free.
Not much on the nutritional count, however, rice milk is least likely, to trigger allergies, among the rest and is cholesterol free.
It is extremely low in protein, delivering merely a gram of protein per cup. It contains twice the amount of carbohydrates than dairy milk, thus, a bad option for diabetics or those keeping a tab on their sugar level. Also, rice milk lacks in calcium content and other essential minerals and vitamins of whole milk.
Unfortunately, this is not an ideal option if you wish to make up for the nutrition loss of dairy milk, unless fortified with vitamin D and calcium. A suitable option for vegans and those allergic to soy.
A favorite among chefs and foodies, coconut milk is kitchen friendly as it can be used in various recipes. It is made by soaking coconut flesh in hot water.
Coconut milk is a good source of potassium (263 mg in 100g) which keeps a check on your blood pressure. It is low in sodium(less than 30mg in 100mg), which is a relief, as we already consume lot more than recommended. Also, it has iron content to protect you from anemia and keep up with the RBC count.
Coconut milk is high in saturated fat, as much as whole milk , which is the reason behind its creamy texture. So, weight watchers better watch out for this one. It is, also, extremely low in calcium(about 100mg in 100g), vitamin D and protein(about 2g in 100g)
Again, not an ideal choice in terms of milk replacement, as it is low in calcium, protein and no vitamin D. However, its nutritional value comes from potassium and iron. Also, it is good in case of milk allergy and digestion issues. So, go for fortified unsweetened products to reap the maximum and regulate your caloric count.
Relatively new on the market, hemp milk is made from soaking hemp seeds in water. It is rising in popularity because of its much talked about nutritious value.
It contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, preventing you from the risk of inflammatory diseases, maintain heart health and cell growth.
It also contains all essential 10 amino acids important for muscle growth and metabolism. Hemp milk is less known to cause any allergies as it is gluten free, lactose free and dairy free.
However, This beverage contains saturated fat and is low in protein(about1g protein in 100g), lacks much calcium and not widely available as soy or almond milk.
Taste friendly, and a suitable pick if you suffer from any of the above mentioned allergies. However, hemp milk doesn’t match up to the nutrition benefits of dairy milk though it is loaded with other nutrients, in which case, adding it to your diet would be good.
However, you might take time getting used to its taste.
The Overall Verdict
First things first, you must check the product labels before you pay for it, as the nutritional content may vary in each brand. Try and stay away from added sugars, highly processed and preservatives so that you don’t lose out on the good it contains.
Also, prioritize your needs when switching to a non dairy alternative, whether you are aiming for muscle health, or weight loss or other specific health benefits. This way, it will be simpler to narrow down to one choice.
If its strictly about matching the dairy profile, then almond milk and soy milk are your best bets in terms of protein and calcium.
However, if you just don’t like the taste of dairy milk, you better acquire it, or if still not,, then add some spice by trying out either of these alternatives by adding it your cup to tea or coffee or while cooking.
I believe, this information will ease you out from the puzzle of what could be your best bet. Stick to the verdict list, and you’ll able to figure that out in no time. And then, you too can say out loud, “I got milk!”
You may find out what’s missing on your milk diet by reading about The Ideal Recovery Drink
Reference Branca F, & Lorenzetti S (2005). Health effects of phytoestrogens. Forum of nutrition (57), 100-11 PMID: 15702593. ^Back to Top^