Feb22Got Milk? Milk Alternatives and Benefits

Milk of jug and glass on old stump table of grassland background with copy space

Milk is a staple food in many peoples’ diets, especially the American population. While there are numerous studies showing the benefits of regular ol’ milk, there are alternatives out there for those that want to avoid cow’s milk out of necessity or preference.

The options to choose from may be confusing to many, but this quick read will give you the rundown on the different milk alternatives out there, along with some benefits.

Nut milks

Nut milks are probably the most popular alternatives to dairy milk. Why wouldn’t they be? Relatively inexpensive, decent flavor, and similar uses for it allow nut milks to be a top contender.

There are multiple choices when it comes to options: almond milk is usually the most popular, but there is also cashew milk, walnut milk, hazelnut milk, and countless others, although the ones listed are the more common. Those with tree nut allergies though will want to read through the other options below, though.

Nut milks can be used for everything regular milk is used for. It’s also lower in calories, and is usually fortified with tons of vitamins and minerals – but lower in protein compared to cow milk.

Oat milk

As the name suggests, oat milk is another non-dairy option for milk drinkers. It has a smooth and creamy texture compared to other non-dairy milks, and is also fortified with vitamins and minerals as well.

Oat milk is also pretty sustainable, so it’s better for the environment! Since oats can also help lower cholesterol levels thanks to their soluble fibers known as beta glucans, oat milk may help lower LDL cholesterol.

Coconut milk

Another popular option would be coconut milk. Not to be confused with coconut water, coconut milk is a thicker, creamier liquid drink. And no, the coconut is not a nut; it’s a fruit!

Coconut milk is higher in saturated fat and calories, but not by much. Again, like most of these alternatives, it is usually fortified with extra minerals and nutrients.

Soy milk

Ah, the black sheep. Soy milk often gets a bad rap for the main ingredient: soy. It’s often believed to raise estrogen levels, which is not a good thing for men.

While there have been certain studies showing a correlation between high soy consumption and raised estrogen levels, the amount of soy you would need to consume for that to actually happen seems to be absurdly high. Having a cup or two of soy milk probably wouldn’t do you any harm.

As for the benefits of soy milk, it does usually have a higher protein content compared to other non-dairy milks, which could be a boon for some people.

Combination milks

There are products out there that mix certain milks out there, like cashew/coconut, almond/coconut, etc. There isn’t really much of a difference other than that they mix the main product together.

Points to Remember

Both regular old milk and its alternatives are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals. One super important vitamin is that of vitamin D, which you’ll find in all types of milk. Calcium is another important mineral that is found in dairy milk, but non-dairy alternatives are also fortified with this crucial nutrient as well.

Regardless of the choice of milk, as with all foods – try to pick a high quality brand with basic ingredients. With some milk alternatives, there can sometimes be highly-processed products to help extend shelf life, and added sugar to enhance taste.

Whether you choose dairy or non-dairy liquids, all types of milk are usually packed full of nutritious vitamins and minerals that do a body good.