The Truth About Dairy-Free Milk Alternatives: Skip or Sip?

There was a time when cow’s milk was the go-to liquid to add to your cereal- now there’s so much more. Cow’s milk is packed with nine essential nutrients – calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, riboflavin and niacin. Milk is considered a nutrient powerhouse.  However, there’s evolving research on whether the saturated fat found in whole milk is good for you and the verdict is still out. The good new is, if you’re vegan,lactose intolerant, or would just don’t like dairy, lucky you, there are a host of dairy-free milk options on the market for you to select from. It can be a challenging trying to narrow down the right dairy milk alternative, so we decided to explore and take a closer look at the most popular options. Hopefully it will help you decide the best option for you.

Soy Milk

The most popular of dairy alternatives is soy milk. For many years, it has been a good alternative for people with lactose or milk intolerance.  It’s made from soy bean and loaded with protein. It’s neutral flavor makes it a widely used option for cereal and coffee. One of the downsides is that it is highly processed. Additionally, the benefits of incorporating soy into your diet have become increasingly debatable. Soy milk has always been a good alternative for people with a milk intolerance or allergy. Unfortunately, today’s soy is reported to be 90% genetically engineered which means heavy exposure to pesticides. Nutritionists recommend sticking with the organic, non-GMO brands to avoid undesired  pesticide consumption.

Almond Milk

This rich in calcium and a awesome source of vitamins E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and fiber, has become a more popular dairy alternative in more recent years.  It’s smooth texture and filling affects make it a great alternative for milk. It’s important to be mindful of sugar content. Thankfully, there are several unsweetened and now “light” varieties on the market. Unfortunately, almond milk is low on protein, so it’s not the best option if you’re trying to add a protein source to your meal, however, you can always compensate protein by adding protein to your oatmeal or smoothie bowl. Recent studies support that when almond milk is fortified with calcium that it’s an even better source that cow’s milk.

Rice Milk

Rice milk has a sugary flavor. Many people choose to use it with oatmeal, cereal, or smoothies. However, due to its high sugar content, it makes it one of the least healthy options.  For people with a variety of food allergies, rice milk is often the most viable option. It’s also reported to be good for blood pressure. Scientists warn against rice milk because of potentially harmful levels of arsenic. Low levels of poison is found naturally in rice and other plants. Experts recommend making your own to play it safe. Here’s a yummy Rice Milk recipe you might want to try.

Coconut Milk

Coconut, by far, is one of the creamiest dairy-free options. It’s also quite popular in stores. Coconut milk is made from fresh-grated coconut meat which provides its unmistakable sweet and decadent taste. It’s also high in saturated fat aka “good fat.” Surprisingly,  however, It doesn’t have a lot of protein or calcium, but the good fat content and medium-chain triglycerides make it one of the “easiest to digest” options.  By the way, it’s great ingredient for rice and curry dishes. Try making your own with this easy Coconut Milk and Water recipe.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is a creamy, delicious and great source of fiber option. Did I mention that it’s also packed with fiber, antioxidants and magnesium? It’s not as popular as almond milk, but it’s still makes an ideal swap for low-calorie recipes.  Additionally, it has much less sugar than soy or rice milk. The nutty flavor makes for a tasty ingredient for creamers, vegan dishes, cereals, and homemade puddings.

Hemp Milk

Do you have a soy or nut allergies or are you looking to add more protein to your meal? Look no further, hemp is your go-to guy! It is produced from the seeds of the hemp plant but does not include any of the THC found in marijuana. Most hemp milk is actually made from imported seeds from countries where it is legal to grow hemp. It’s also full of heart-heathy omega-3 fatty acids and naturally consist of essential amino acids; not to mention, it’s a fortified with energy boosting nutrients like vitamin B-12.  You might want to try these delicious Hemp Milk recipes.

Check out Fresh Heather’s great  “Make Milk in Minutes” tutorial or click the video above to see how to make a delicious dairy-free ice cream.

What’s your favorite type of milk? Please comment below.