Milk. What comes to your mind when you hear this word?
A herd of white cows, grazing about in wild pasture? A clinch of cherubs, their baby-faces concentrating on finishing their bottles?
Milk has forever been the quintessential drink. Nutrients? Check. Taste? Check. Cooking versatility? Check. Milk is loved by everyone? Errr, not quite.
Milk, especially animal-sourced milk, has its drawbacks. Lactose intolerance, allergies, risks of cancer and diabetes, and even veganism 😛
So, if you want to stay away from cow milk, but still want your Iced Half Caff, Ristretto, Venti, 4-Pump, Cinnamon Dolce Soy Skinny Latte (yes obnoxious Starbucks enthusiasts, we’re calling you out), you can opt for various dairy-free milk alternatives.
1. Soy Milk
Soy milk is produced by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture, and filtering out the remains. This extract is sold commonly in sweetened, unsweetened or various flavoured varieties.
Soy milk is the closest nutritionally equivalent alternative to cow’s milk. It is usually infused with calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and riboflavin. It also includes 8-10 grams of protein (per serving). Soy milk also contains isoflavones which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart ailments.
Soy milk cannot be consumed by individuals with existing soy allergies, as it may trigger an allergic reaction.
2. Rice Milk
Rice milk is another popular dairy alternative. It is a mixture of boiled rice, brown rice starch, and brown rice syrup. Rice milk is highly recommended as it constitutes the least amount of allergens. It is soy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free too.
If you’re planning on losing weight, rice milk is not a suitable alternative. Rice milk contains a high amount of carbohydrates and is deficient in protein and calcium. Since rice milk is thin and watery, it is not a suitable substitute for cooking too.
3. Almond Milk
Almond Milk is made using grounded almonds and water. Almond milk is sweet, with a creaminess reminiscent of dairy milk. Almond milk contains a generous amount of vitamin E, almost half the required daily supplement, in one cup. It is also quite low on the calorie side of things; almond milk packs only a third of the calories of an equal amount of cow’s milk. The protein content is also far less than dairy or soy milk. It also lacks the vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals found in cow’s milk, hence it is important to consume only fortified almond milk.
4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is the closest alternative you can get to cow’s milk. It resembles the texture of dairy milk. Coconut milk has a high-fat content, about 5 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Coconut milk has a nutty flavour, which makes it suitable for baking. It is free from soy and gluten, hence it appeals to people with multiple food allergies. Coconut milk has almost four times the potassium amount per cup compared to cow’s milk.
But when it comes to the overall nutritional value, coconut milk is severely lacking. One cup of coconut milk contains 80 calories, 100 mg of calcium and 1 g of protein. Compare this with cow’s milk: to 100 calories, 8 g of protein and 300 mg of calcium.
5. Pea Milk
Pea milk is a recent débutant in the world of plant-sourced milks. Pea milk is made from mixing pea extract, water, and emulsifiers oils (sunflower, algal), and gums like guar and gellan. It is a creamy milk, with a pinch of nuttiness. At 70 calories per cup, it has only half the calories present in a cup of dairy milk. It has a high DHA content, which is an important omega-3 fatty acid. Studies have shown that consuming pea milk is beneficial for the heart, the brain, and the immunity system. It also has an adequate protein content of 8g per cup.
6. Flaxseed Milk
Flaxseed milk is made using ground whole flaxseeds and water. It is an affordable keto alternative to dairy milk. Flax milk has a high content of fibre and is rich in alpha-linolenic acids, which is known to be highly effective in preventing and treating heart diseases. It is effective for preventing heart attacks, low high blood pressure, and cholesterol. It has also been known to help reverse the hardening of blood vessels. Fortified flaxseed oil has a higher calcium content when compared to regular cow’s milk, hence it is recommended for people who require calcium supplements.
Flax milk has a low protein content. Many varieties of flaxseed milk tend to have high amounts of sugar, hence, it is important to go through the contents of the milk carefully.