Milk has always been recommended in the diet of a healthy and growing person, but some scientific evidence suggests an alternative may be the better choice to make. Many cannot drink cow milk because of dietary restrictions, dairy allergies or intolerances, or digestive issues. This is why there is a huge market for alternative dairy, as they grow in popularity more and more. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite ones and why. Keep reading below for more.
Why Some May Avoid Cow’s Milk
Cow’s milk does have an impressive nutrient profile, according to Healthline. “It’s rich in high-quality protein and important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins. One cup (240 ml) of whole milk provides 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 13 grams of carbohydrates.” But unfortunately, not everyone can have cow’s milk. They may have a dairy allergy, lactose intolerance, or dietary restrictions for ethical or health reasons. In addition, they may want to avoid the potential health risks associated with cow’s milk due to the contaminants like antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones it contains.
Here are Some of the Best Alternative Milk That We Love
1) Soy Milk
Soy milk has either soybean or soy protein isolate but will often contain thickeners to improve taste and feel. As a result, it will be creamier milk and is great for coffee. Usually around 80 to 90 calories, it contains a similar amount of protein to dairy, but half the calories fat and carbs. Although it is not dairy, it can affect estrogen in the body and the function of hormones due to the large amount of isoflavone in soy.
2) Almond Milk
Almond milk is made out of whole almonds or almond butter and water. It is light and has a sweet flavour. Unflavored almond milk has around 30 to 40 calories but has significantly less protein than dairy milk. It also has a lot of vitamin E, which helps protect your body from disease-causing free radicals. Here’s one of our favourite brands, Califa Farms. At around $28 for a 6-pack, it’s delicious and great for including in desserts.
3) Coconut Milk
This is made from the flesh of coconuts and water. It is usually more diluted here in the States but has a sweet and creamy texture. Coconut milk usually contains 40 – 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, and barely any protein or carbs. It is made of MCTs, which have medium-chain triglycerides. Many use MCT to help them lose weight, improve cholesterol, and have a healthy brain.
4) Oat Milk
Usually, oat milk is a mixture of oat and water. In addition, manufacturers typically add extra ingredients such as oil and salt to add taste. Although oat milk is likely the most sustainable option for alternative milk, it usually contains 140 – 170 calories per cup, 5 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, and 20 to 30 grams of carbs. But oat milk helps lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. One of our absolute favourites is Minor Figures. At only $25 for a 6-pack, it’s a steal.
Hemp milk is made from the hemp plant’s seeds, in the same family of species that makes the drug marijuana. Hemp milk contains tiny amounts of THC, the chemical that will alter your mind, but not enough to make you feel anything. It has around 60 – 80 calories, 5 – 10 grams of fat, 2 – 3 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of carbs. This milk is perfect for those who want to cut back on carbs. Like all alternative milk, sweetened versions of this milk can contain lots of carbs and sugar. We love this one from Good Karma, an incredible unsweetened version that will taste great in smoothies. You can get it here from Thrive Market.