There are so many plant-based milk alternatives I wasn’t able to write about in Part 1 so I’m giving you a breakdown of the remaining milk alternatives in Part 2: rice, cashew, hemp, flaxseed, and pea protein.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, 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. I use vanilla soy milk fortified with Vitamin D in my smoothies because it’s comparable to cow’s milk in terms of nutritional value and I don’t have to add additional sweeteners like honey. I recommend buying fortified unsweetened plant-based milk alternatives to lower the calorie content.
Rice milk is a safe option for anyone with allergies or intolerances to gluten, soy, dairy, or nuts. This non-dairy milk is made from milled rice or brown rice and water. Thickeners are added to improve taste and texture. Rice milk is slightly sweet in flavor with a mild taste.
- One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened rice milk contains 130–140 calories, 2–3 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 27–38 grams of carbohydrates
- It contains 3x as many carbohydrates as other non-dairy milk. I don’t recommend rice milk if you are monitoring your blood glucose levels.
- Shown to have high levels of inorganic arsenic, which may cause various health problems, including heart disease and certain cancers.
Cashew milk is made from, you guessed it, cashews and water. It has a creamy, sweet, and subtle nutty flavor. I made cashew milk once using a food processor, water, and 1 cup cashews. It was simple to make but I thought the process was too time-consuming compared to the amount of liquid I made. I would try it again but I would not make my own cashew milk regularly.
- One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened cashew milk contains just 25–50 calories, 2–4 grams of fat, 0–1 gram of protein and 1–2 grams of carbohydrates
- Low in protein so it’s not the best option for people with increased protein needs, like children.
This milk is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Don’t worry you will not get high drinking hemp milk. Its texture is thin and watery like skim milk with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
- One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened hemp milk contains 60–80 calories, 4.5–8 grams of fat, 2–3 grams of protein and 0–1 gram of carbohydrates
- One glass provides 2–3 grams of high quality, complete protein, with all the essential amino acids. Great option for vegans and vegetarians.
- Hemp milk is a source of two essential fatty acids: the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid. Our body doesn’t make these essential fatty acids, we must get them from food.
Flaxseed milk is another safe option for anyone with allergies or intolerances to gluten, soy, dairy, or nuts. It is slightly sweet with a creamy texture.
- One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened flaxseed milk contains 50 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein and 7 grams of carbs.
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids (heart healthy) and is naturally protein free. However, some brands add peas to increase the protein in their products.
Pea Protein Milk
Pea Protein milk is one of the newest non-dairy alternatives on the block. The process involved in making pea protein milk is complex and varies depending on the brand. One of the ways pea protein is made begins with harvesting yellow peas and milling them into flour. That flour is processed, separating the pea protein from the fiber and starch. The pea protein is further purified and blended together with water and other ingredients, including sunflower oil and sea salt, as well as vitamins and minerals.
- One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened pea protein milk contains 100 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbs.
- Low in saturated fat and the same amount of protein as cow’s milk.
I wanted to write about plant-based milk alternatives because there are so many options which can be overwhelming even for a registered dietitian nutritionist. In fact, there are many more plant-based milk alternatives I didn’t cover in Part 1 and Part 2. Maybe I’ll write a Part 3?