Have you noticed the numerous plant-based milk alternative brands on the grocery store shelves? There are so many different options to cow’s milk for consumers to buy compared to 5 years ago. Plant-based milk alternatives can also be made at home. Homemade versions are not fortified with nutrients like calcium, Vitamin B12, or Vitamin D.
I’m not against drinking cow’s milk at all. It’s rich in high-quality protein and important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins. However, I drink plant-based milk alternatives because I’m lactose-intolerant (it affects around 75% of the world’s population). Additional reasons people may avoid cow’s milk include dietary restrictions, a milk allergy or a personal decision. No judgment here. If you’re overwhelmed by the options. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you a breakdown of the current plant-based milk alternatives in part 1: soy, almond, oat, and coconut.
Soy milk is made from soybeans and filtered water. Like other plant-based milk alternatives, it may contain thickeners to improve consistency and shelf life. Soy milk is naturally free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat. It also contains no lactose. Soy milk is often seen as controversial, however drinking it in moderation is unlikely to cause harm in healthy bodies.
- A good source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, potassium, and isoflavones, plus it can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
- It contains as much protein as cow’s milk yet is lower in calories than whole milk and about equal to the calories in 1 percent or 2 percent milk.
- It contains very little saturated fat.
Almond milk is made from, you guessed it, whole almonds and milk. It has a light, sweet, and nutty flavor. Almond milk is made up mostly of water so choose a brand that contains 7-15% almonds.
- A natural source of Vitamin E and compared to cow’s milk significantly lower in protein, calories, fat, and carbohydrates.
- Almonds contain phytic acid, a substance that binds to iron, zinc, and calcium to reduce their absorption in the body.
Oat milk is typically oats and water but may also have additional ingredients like guar gum, salt, and oils for taste and texture. Guar gum is a food additive found in processed food and recognized as generally safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Oat milk has a mild and slightly sweet flavor.
- Compared to cow’s milk it has double the carbohydrates and half the protein and fat.
- High in fiber, which may help lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
Coconut milk is made from water and the white flesh or “meat” of brown coconuts. It has a creamy, milk-like consistency and a sweet, subtle coconut taste. Coconut milk in cartons is more diluted than the coconut milk used in Indian or Southeast Asian cuisine found in cans.
- Compared to the other plant-based milk alternatives in this post coconut milk has no protein and little to no carbohydrates.
- Majority of the calories come from saturated fat, including medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat.
These plant-based milk alternatives vary in nutrients, taste, texture, and smell. I always advised my clients to drink unsweetened versions to lower the sugar and calorie content. In my next post, I will give you a breakdown of 5 additional plant-based milk alternatives: rice, cashew, hemp, flaxseed, and pea protein.
I told you there are way too many choices.