Got “Milk”?

The USDA touts dairy products as an important part of our diets.  However, not all agree with this, while others have allergies that inhibit them from eating/drinking milk products.  Luckily for those with allergies and those who just do not prefer milk, there are several readily available alternatives.  The most popular up until recently was soy milk.  However, extensive research has shown many negatives in addition to the positives of soy milk.  Renee has expressed her concerns for the phytoestrogens, compounds in soy that milk estrogen, which may “feed” beast cancers.  Other studies have shown that soy has a protective effect against cancer, so the research is really inconclusive (source). Luckily there are other popular alternatives that include almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk.  Lesser known “milks” include hemp, oat, and other nut milks.  As with most products each has pros and cons and vary in taste.

Nutrition Comparison

Serving Size:

1 cup

Calories

Tot. Fat (g)

Carbs (g)

Fiber (g)

Sugars (g)

Protein (g)

Calcium (% DV)

Vitamin D (%DV)

Plain Soymilk

100

4

8

1

6

7

30

30

Vanilla Soymilk

100

3.5

11

1

8

6

30

30

Plain Rice Milk

120

2.5

24

0

11

1

30

25

Vanilla Rice Milk

130

2.5

27

0

12

1

30

25

Plain Almond Milk

60

2.5

8

0

7

1

45

25

Vanilla Almond Milk

90

2.5

16

0

15

1

45

25

Plain Hempmilk

100

6

10

0

6

2

30

25

Vanilla Hempmilk

130

3

20

1

18

4

30

25

Plain Coconut milk

80

5

7

0

6

0

45

25

Vanilla Coconut milk

90

5

9

0

8

0

45

25

(adapted from fitsugar.com with additional info from Silk)

As you can see from the chart the most popular types of “milk” are pretty comparable.  Make sure to look at the sugar content, as many of the flavored “milks” have a lot of added sugar in the form of evaporated cane juice or brown rice syrup.  Almond milk is lowest in calories and highest in calcium, but lacks protein.  Coconut milk is a little higher in fat (saturated fat at that too).  Hemp milk has the added benefit of omega-3’s and other vitamins.  Soy milk has the most protein and is closest to cow’s milk (8 grams per 1 cup).  Overall, if you are looking for a milk alternative as a source of calcium and vitamin D, any of the “milks” are good.  If you’re looking to still get the protein of cow’s milk soy is your best bet.

Taste Test

Soy: Has a very distinct flavor.  Slightly sweet.

Original Almond: Mild, pleasant, nutty flavor.  Definitely tastes like almonds.  Slightly sweet.

Rice: Thin, watery consistency.  Sweet.

Plain Hemp: Nutty, earthy.  Reminds me of the smell of hemp jewelry.  Personally, not a fan. I think it might be ok in baked goods, but not to drink straight.

Vanilla Coconut: Creamy, sweet.  Distinct coconut flavor.  I think it’d be good with dessert or to sweeten up breakfast.  I found the taste of this the best.

Overall, all the milk alternatives have their ups and downs.  I personally like soy, almond and coconut.  Not such a fan of rice or hemp milk.  I tried oat milk once for a class too which wasn’t too bad, haven’t had it since though.  It comes down to a matter of personal preference and as with all things they seem to all be fine in moderation.

What “milks” have you tried?  What is your favorite?

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