Hate the taste of milk? Vegan? Opposed to the factory-farmed and abused cows that are exploited for milk? Allergic to milk?
According the Food Allergy Initiative, a cows’ milk allergy is the most common food allergy in infants and children. Lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy. It is a common condition where the body loses its ability to digest lactose, often causing bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and discomfort. Levels of lactose intolerance vary per individual. One person may be able to tolerate aged dairy with low levels of lactose such as yogurt and hard cheeses, however, another may be unable to tolerate even a splash of milk in their coffee. Those with an actual milk allergy must strictly avoid milk and dairy in any form.
Well, there is a whole industry of alternative milk that offers options that are way beyond skimmed and full-fat milk that you used to purchase.
Why should there be an alternative to cow milk? Don’t you need protein, you may ask. But there are enough recent research that suggests that you don’t milk for bone growth. Actually, you don’t need a milk substitute. Humans are the only species who drink milk beyond a certain stage. In fact, one can do without milk. Every nutrient you can get from milk has many substitutes, even superior substitutes.
So why the addiction to milk you may ask?
Partly due to marketing tactics of promoting milk for so many years, it’s stuck in our mind now. Remember all the Dunkin donuts ads, oreo dunks in milk and your morning coffee. So even after realizing that traditionally sourced milk are harmful to us and the other being, we are constantly on the look for a substitute.
However, milk consumption per capita has been on steady march downward, dropping 25% from 1975 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, the mainstreaming of plant-based dairy alternatives like soy, almond, and rice milk has averaged annual sales growth of 10.9% since 1999 in the U.S., according to market research firm Euromonitor.
Dairy Milk Alternatives: Pros and Cons
Lactose for milk is how gluten is to wheat. Many people talk about it, say they are allergic to it, yet have no idea what it is. Lactose is a natural sugar in milk that causes digestion problems in some people. The nutritional component as the same as regular milk and the taste is the same. Of course, you also get this in different fat versions. The lactose is actually broken down into simple sugars by an enzyme.
This is the first non-animal derivative that became popular. It has declined in popularity over the years and is replaced by almond and other nut milk. This is due to the questionable health effects of soy milk. It is actually the closest in protein levels to normal milk. It tastes slightly sweet but is not very pleasant with tea or coffee.
It has good levels of protein and calcium and low saturated fat. Soy isoflavones have been shown to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and at least 10mg per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%. Make sure you look for a non-GMO certified soy milk label.
Almond milk has 24 calories per 100ml, almost half of semi-skimmed milk. It also has less protein and high Vitamin E (making it good for the skin). Making your own almond milk is also easy and a cheap way to drink healthy milk substitute. It has high calcium, Vitamin A, and D, as well as high sodium content.
This milk is not as common on grocery store shelves. But it is a nutritional powerhouse of antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids, and phytochemicals guaranteed to improve your health. Although high in fat per serving, the fats are plant-based, which is usually a good sign that the fats are not saturated fats or trans fats. Additionally, macadamia nut milk is delicious and resembles a semi-sweet, exotic type of beverage.
Hazelnut milk, derived from hazelnut, is an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates as well as calcium. The taste is absolutely heavenly, and it has supreme nutrition.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, hazelnut milk is becoming the new “it” milk in California, with a number of coffee houses employing the milk for their own coffees since it tastes better and more agreeably with coffee than conventional dairy milk. Considering that hazelnut flavored coffee is among the most popular brands of coffee in the world, it comes as no surprise that hazelnut milk offers a wonderful alternative to regular milk in flavoring the coffees of independent roasters and shops throughout the world.
It has a very noticeable coconut-y taste. In fact all through Asia, it is used in cooking because of this amazing taste. It is sweet in taste. It has low protein content and 2g of fat more than semi-skimmed milk. But this is good fat for you and can nourish your skin especially if you have dry skin. Coconut milk, along with most nut milk, work well in baked goods because of their nutty flavors. Also often free of soy and gluten, coconut milk is often a good choice for those with multiple food allergies.
Hemp milk comes with 2.5g of fat per 100ml and less than 0.1g of protein, but it provides half of your daily intake of omega 3 per glass. It has a neutral taste and lacks calcium.
Flax milk is rich in Alpha Linoleic acids, a group of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been consistently shown in studies to ameliorate the effects of inflammation on the body. It is good for people with inflammatory diseases, such as autoimmune conditions as well as skin conditions like severe acne.
Flax milk has just as much calcium in it as regular milk, making it a sensible option for people who wish to maintain healthy, adequate levels of calcium. Most flax milk is produced by organic, ethically responsible companies that use non-GMO flax.
Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of any of the milk alternatives. Rice milk can be fortified with calcium and vitamins D2 and B12. It is low in fat (1g per 100ml), but also low in protein (0.1g per 100ml). With 47 calories per 100ml, its energy content is identical to that of semi-skimmed. It has a light flavor that doesn’t really resemble cow’s milk, but with a slight sweetness.
However, rice milk is not suitable for children under the age of five as a main drink because of the levels of arsenic in it (low levels of arsenic are found naturally in rice)
Oat milk is a very nutritious milk made from the grains of the oatmeal cereal. Oats are very immune system friendly; studies have proven that eating oats reduces “bad” cholesterol levels while raising your “good” cholesterol levels.
Oat milk is a powerhouse of protein, with around 4-5g of healthy plant protein per serving. It is also extremely high in soluble fiber, which allows for healthy digestion and promotes regularity.
Unfortunately, people with gluten intolerance should avoid oat milk; although oat does not regularly contain gluten itself, most oats in the US are grown in the same fields as wheat and are thus regularly contaminated with wheat.
Oat milk is fortified with Vitamin D, making it a healthy, sensible alternative to regular dairy milk.