Whether due to lactose intolerance or preference, more and more people are considering non-dairy milk substitutes. Given the number of options on the shelves, it can be difficult to determine the healthiest option.
Here is a breakdown of four alternatives that can provide the nutritional boost you need, including which ones you should avoid if you have certain health conditions:
- Soy milk
PROS When comparing all the alternatives, a 2017 study found soy milk to resemble the nutritional profile of dairy the most. It contains just as much protein as cow’s milk in addition to being a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B-12, potassium, etc.
CONS There are suggested links to thyroid problems and impaired endocrine function.
- Rice milk
PROS Made from filtered water, partially milled organic brown rice and sea salt, commercial rice milk contains as much calcium and as many vitamins as cow’s milk but less fat even than soya milk. It is relatively high in fibre.
CONS Contains added salt and also tastes sweet so not good in savoury dishes. Low in calcium and protein.
- Almond milk
PROS It contains no saturated fats or lactose (milk sugar) and is among the lowest in calories of all the milk alternatives.
CONS In many commercial almond milks, almonds are the second or third ingredient after water and sweeteners giving it a sweeter flavour than regular milk. It can also contain added sugar
- Oat milk
PROS Commercial oat milks are made from the liquid left when oats are soaked in water. Studies have shown oats help lower cholesterol levels and are a low glycaemic index food that provides a long lasting energy burst. It is thought the milk has similar benefits.
CONS Not all commercial oat drinks are fortified with the vitamins in regular cow’s milk so check the brand you buy has vitamins and minerals – such as calcium – added. Oat milks are not gluten free. They are a low gluten food, but anyone with Coeliacs Disease should seek medical advice before using them.