More and more often soy milk, rice milk and almond milk are being recommended in place of cow’s milk. Are they healthier? Should you make a switch?
Do you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity?
Designed as dairy-alternatives non-dairy milk options created as an alternative to cow’s milk for those with a dairy allergy. Now these milks are going main stream. These are medically necessary for those with dairy allergies, and provide variety to the rest of us. While non-dairy milks do offer some nutritional benefit to you must be picky about the product you try.
Bloated with cow’s milk?
Many adults are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the naturally occurring sugar in cow’s milk; lactose intolerance is the result of inadequate lactase production in our body. Lactase is the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose. If you don’t have enough lactase you don’t completely digest lactose and when you drink cow’s milk you may experience nausea, gas, bloating and diarrhea. Non-dairy milks serve as a nice option for those with lactose intolerance since these milks don’t contain lactose.
Are non-dairy milks healthier?
Think about where non-dairy milks come from…. They are plant-based, which makes them inherently healthier than cow’s milk.
Rice and oat milk are made from intact whole grains, brown rice and rolled oats. These milks are higher in carbohydrate than other milks and lack protein and fat. These milks are nutritionally more like fruit juice than cow’s milk. Because these are higher in carbs, they are great following hard workouts. Blend with frozen fruit and organic silken tofu and you’ve got a decent recovery drink.
*NOTE: oat milk is not gluten free
Non-dairy varieties of milk made from soy beans, coconut, nuts and seeds contain healthy fats. These plant-based milks contain fats that gives them a nutritional edge compared to cow’s milk which contains unhealthy and inflammatory fats.
You may think, “Fats? That must be high calorie!” Not so! Unsweetened almond, hemp, sunflower seed, coconut and soy milk are 45-80 calories per cup, compared to 90-150 calories per cup cow’s milk.
Watch out for sugar
Be aware that added sugar is commonplace in non-dairy milk. Often “original” contains a tablespoon of added sugar per serving! Be sure to choose unsweetened varieties.
Despite the fact that non-dairy milks are often recommended for those with digestive health problems, the thickeners and stabilizers in these milks can cause much digestive distress. A common thickener found in non-dairy milk is, carrageenan. The Cornucopia Institute has identified specific products that don’t contain carageenan, you can find that list by clicking here. Of the products pictured above, these do not contain carageenan: Rice Dream Classic, Pacific Oat (not gluten free), and WestSoy Unsweetened Soy.
Definitely choose organic for soy and cow’s milk and preferably with all other milks.
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.