Although cow’s milk is delicious, creamy and rich, it’s not always the best option for your body. Whether you’re lactose intolerant or just have a sensitivity to dairy products, there are still a number of milk alternatives to choose from. Although I am not allergic to lactose, I have discovered lately that dairy makes me break out and feel less than my best. So, I have decided to venture toward alternative milks, as well.
Fortunately for us, there are several options available. Not only is there soy milk, but there is also almond, coconut, rice, hazelnut, oat, and flax milk. But what are the differences between each, and why in the world are there so many?
Soy milk is the most popular alternative to dairy because of its thickness and sweet flavor. According to fitday.com, soy milk contains protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and several different antioxidants, including isoflavones. These attributes make it a great, nutritious alternative to dairy; however, some believe that soy milk may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer or male infertility, so be aware of these possible side effects. You also may be interested to know that soy milk is higher in calories than other alternatives.
However, what if you have a soy allergy, too? Not to worry; almond milk is here for you. This is my personal favorite because of its light flavor and low calories. Fitday.com assures readers that almond milk naturally contains copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium. It is also high in antioxidants and low in fat and calories. Be aware, however, that there are sweetened and flavored versions of almond milk in addition to the original, unsweetened product, which is only 40 calories a serving. I must admit that, as a sweet tooth, I love the vanilla-flavored version. Also be aware that almond milk is not safe for infants or those with tree nut allergies.
Oat milk is another viable alternative because of its nutritional value, but remember to avoid it like the plague if you are allergic to gluten! Livestrong.com reports that it has more calcium in one glass than the same amount of cow’s milk. Not only is oat milk lactose-free, but it is cholesterol-free, too. Fatsecret.com also reports that one serving of oat milk contains only 2.5g of fat and has no saturated fat at all. A serving of cow’s whole milk, on the other hand, contains 8g of fat and 5g of saturated fat.
Rice milk is very sweet, so it’s great for cooking with. According to realsimple.com, rice milk is the least likely milk option to trigger allergies, so it’s a good choice for those who can’t drink soy, nut or cow’s milk. It also has no saturated fat or cholesterol, but there is also hardly any protein. Fitday.com says that rice milk is also high in antioxidants and vitamin B, but, again, it is like drinking a glass of starch. For that reason, diabetics may want to steer clear.
Additionally, hazelnut milk is another great dairy alternative. A 2012 study on sciencedaily.com entitled, “Hazelnuts: New Source of Key Fat for Infant Formula That’s More Like Mother’s Milk,” detailed that hazelnuts were the key to making a better baby formula that better emulated breast milk because of its high nutritional values. Hazelnut milk is also high in protein, fiber, vitamin E, and folic acid.
Flax milk, on the other hand, was a little more unfamiliar to me. Surprisingly, this drink is amazing for you, too. It is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans, and fiber, according to WebMD. Additionally, prnewswire.com detailed that flax milk might reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Not only is it low in calories (50 calories a serving), but it also has no cholesterol or trans fat.
Finally, coconut milk is another great choice, with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, according to odewire.com. Although coconut milk is low in calcium, it is high in phosphorous, which also contributes to bone health. Coconut milk can also help you maintain your blood sugar levels and control your weight. If you want to bake with it or use it for your coffee, get the canned version, which is thicker.
You can find these products in most grocery stores, but they will most assuredly be in Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Publix, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger. You never know: your dairy-free milkshake might still bring some lactose intolerant boys to the yard.
Image Source: Triathlete Food
Rebecca Price–Autoimmune Allyby
Born a North Carolinian, Rebecca Price moved to Papua New Guinea when she was 3 and lived on a Wycliffe Bible Translators center there until she graduated high school in 2010. Now a rising senior at Asbury University, Rebecca is a double major in creative writing and journalism with a minor in Spanish. Rebecca is the Executive Editor of her student newspaper, the Asbury Collegian, and a writing tutor at the Center for Academic Excellence. She has had some wonderful experiences during her time at Asbury, including reporting at the London 2012 Olympics through the NBC-affiliate LEX-18. She enjoys bunnies, coffee and AP Style.View all Rebecca Price posts.