Quantcast

6 Alternatives to Milk: Which Is the Healthiest?

A glass of milk for strong bones. Milk with cookies or morning cereal. Everyone loves milk, right? Not quite. Animal-derived milk does have its downside. These include allergies and lactose intolerance, possibly even the risk of certain cancers and diabetes.

The good news is that those who want or need to stay away from cow's milk can do so with a number of non-dairy milk alternatives. These vary in their levels of nutrition, color, flavor and texture.

1. Soy Milk

A popular alternative to dairy milk, soy milk is a bean extract of soybeans and commonly sold in sweetened, unsweetened and flavored varieties, including chocolate and vanilla.

Pros: In many ways, soy milk is nutritionally equivalent to cow's milk. It's often fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D and riboflavin and it usually includes 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving. Soy milk can also contain isoflavones, which have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Cons: Even a little soy milk can cause severe allergic reactions to those with a soy allergy. In addition, a review published in 2014 in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine revealed that soy might negatively impact fertility in men.

2. Almond Milk

Made from ground almonds, water and (in most cases) sweetener, almond milk is sweet with a creamy texture similar to dairy milk.

Pros: Almond milk contains lots of vitamin E—about 50 percent of the daily value in one cup. Weight watchers will like the fact that almond milk has 1/3 of the calories of 2 percent cow's milk.

Cons: Almond milk has far less protein than dairy milk or soy milk. It also doesn't have the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids found in dairy milk, so it's important to look for fortified almond milk.

3. Rice Milk

Made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch, rice milk is a popular alternative for cow's milk.

Pros: Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of the milk alternatives. It's free of soy, gluten and nuts, important for those who are allergic or can't tolerate these ingredients.

Cons: If you're watching your weight, rice milk is high in carbohydrates. And it's low in protein and calcium compared to dairy milk. This milk is also thin and watery, so it's not a good cow's milk substitute for cooking or baking.

4. Coconut Milk

A close alternative to cow's milk, coconut milk most resembles the texture of whole dairy milk. It's somewhat high in fat (about 5 grams of saturated fat per cup).

Pros: Its nutty flavor makes coconut milk suitable for many types of baked foods. It's soy- and gluten-free, so those with multiple food allergies can tolerate this substitute. Coconut milk has far more potassium per cup than dairy milk (630 mg per cup, vs. 150 mg).

Cons: Coconut milk lacks the nutritional value of dairy milk. One cup of coconut milk contains 80 calories, 1 g of protein and 100 mg of calcium—compared to 100 calories, 8 g of protein and 300 mg of calcium for 1 percent dairy milk.

5. Flax Milk

A little thin and sweet, most flax milk is produced by organic, ethically responsible companies that use non-GMO flax.

Pros: High in fiber, flax milk is rich in alpha linoleic acids, which has been used to prevent and treat diseases of the heart and blood vessels. It is used to prevent heart attacks, lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reverse hardening of the blood vessels. When fortified, this non-dairy alternative has as much calcium as regular milk, so it's good for those who need healthy, adequate levels of calcium.

Cons: Flax milk is low in protein. Flavored varieties tend to be heavily sweetened, so read the label for sugar content.

6. Hemp Milk

No, you won't get high on hemp milk. Made from hulled hemp seeds, water and (in most cases) sweeteners, hemp milk is a good alternative for those allergic to soy, nuts and gluten.

Pros: Hemp milk provides more iron than cow's milk. It's also very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to promote heart and brain health.

Cons: Unless fortified, hemp milk is relatively low in calcium. It's rather expensive and can have a beany-nutty flavor that may not suit some taste buds. Many store bought varieties have sugar added, so read the label.

Sponsored
On thin ice. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Russian military is taking measures to protect the residents of a remote Arctic settlement from a mass of polar bears, German press agency DPA reported.

The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.

Read More Show Less

This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.

"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Over the past few years, it seems vegan cooking has gone from 'brown rice and tofu' to a true art form. These amazing cooks show off the creations on Instagram—and we can't get enough.

Read More Show Less
The USS Ashland, followed by the USS Green Bay, in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 21. U.S. Department of Defense

By Shana Udvardy

After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.

Read More Show Less
The Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky. CC BY 3.0

Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.

Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.

Read More Show Less