Milk Alternatives

Milk Alternatives

On any given day we usually have 3 or 4 different “milks” in our fridge. There are so many options out there and they are all little different not just in flavor and nutritional content but also in texture. The one thing they do have in common is that they are low in sugar, provided that you buy them unsweetened, and you should ALWAYS buy them unsweetened. The primary reason we do not have cows milk in our house is not because we are vegan or lactose intolerant (although some of us are), it is because of the sugar content. When most people make the switch to alternative milks the sweetened ones taste better to them; the reason is because cow’s milk is very sweet. Unfortunately excess sugar is not good for anyone, and I prefer to save my sugary calories for dessert time.  

This graph shows the nutritional values for 5 different unsweetened milk alternatives. I have included non-fat cow’s milk in the far right column for comparison. If you do not have a specific use in mind for the milk alternative then you should choose the one that is best for you and your diet. For example if you have high blood pressure choose the one with the least sodium, if you are trying to loose weight choose the one with the least calories, if you trying to stay full longer choose the one with more protein and fiber, if you have diabetes choose one with less sugar, if you have  high cholesterol choose the one with the least cholesterol. 

 

Soy Milk   

Almond Milk   

Hemp Milk   

Coconut Milk   

Rice Milk   

Non-fat Milk

Serving Size  

1 cup

1 cup

1 cup

1 cup

1 cup

1 cup

Calories

70

40

80

45

45

86

Total Fat

4g

3g

8g

4.5g

2g

0g

Sat. Fat  

0.5g

0g

0.5

4g

0g

0g

Cholesterol  

0mg

0mg

0mg

0mg

0mg

5mg

Sodium

120mg

180mg

135mg

15mg

135mg

127mg

Potassium

350mg

190mg

na

65mg

15mg

382mg

Fiber

2g

1g

0g

1g

6g

0g

Sugar

1g

<1g

0g

1g

0g

12g

Protein

7g

1g

2g

0g

1g

8g

*These numbers are a rough estimate based on unsweetened versions on each milk.

Soy Milk Excellent source of: (20% RDA or more based on 2000 calorie diet) calcium, riboflavin, manganese, vitamins B12, D and E.

Soy milk is my go-to milk. I enjoy the way it tastes on it’s own as well as in most recipes. It is on the higher end for calories but is also highest in potassium, fiber and protein. I use soy as my primary milk replacement, however it is not good to have too much of anything. If you consume other soy products regularly (tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, edamame, many vegan cheeses) then you should probably moderate your soy milk intake. You need variety in your diet so check out the benefits of these other milks. Also, there are big issues with GMO and soy, so pay attention when shopping only buy organic non-GMO soy.

 

Almond Milk Excellent source of: (20% RDA or more based on 2000 calorie diet) calcium, vitamins D and E. 

Lowest in calories, almond milk is also very tasty on it’s own and is easily made at home. It is great in cereal and baked goods that benefit from an almond-y taste. It is on the lower end of nutrients scale for most things, but is an excellent source of vitamin E. If fact 1 cup has 50% RDA of vitamin E, which is normally difficult to get from food sources. 

 

Hemp Milk Excellent source of: (20% RDA or more based on 2000 calorie diet) calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamins D and B12.

Hemp milk is a great source of omegas 3 and 6, and is loaded with beneficial nutrients. Unfortunately it is very grassy tasting, a little to grassy to drink on it’s own. I prefer it with eggs (such as scrambled or in an omelette) or mixed into baked goods that can overpower the taste. Because of the high fat content this milk is a good replacement for recipes that require the use of whole milk. 

 

Coconut Milk Excellent source of: (20% RDA or more based on 2000 calorie diet) vitamins D and B12.

Coconut milk is definitely the sweetest tasting of all the milk alternatives, even though it is low in sugar. This makes it a great addition to sweets and smoothies, especially green smoothies that benefit from the sweetness but not the sugar. Coconut milk is the thickest of these alternative milks, this quality means it performs well in creamy sauces and curries. Make sure to buy coconut milk in a carton, not a can unless the can specifically says it’s BPA free. Sadly most cans contain BPA which leaches into canned goods that are acidic, salty and fatty, coconut milk falls under the fatty category making canned coconut milk especially harmful. So Delicious Coconut Milk does not use BPA in any of their packaging. 

 

Rice Milk Excellent source of: (20% RDA or more based on 2000 calorie diet) calcium, vitamins D and B12.

This milk is oddly sweet tasting despite the fact that is has almost no sugar. This sweetness makes it an excellent replacement for those whole like the sugary taste of milk. It tastes great on it’s own, in cereals, oatmeal, tea and any recipe that would benefit form a little sweetness with not much other distinctive flavors. If you are trying to replace cow’s milk try getting unsweetened vanilla rice milk, some agree that the addition of the vanilla helps it taste more like cow’s milk.


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