Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

7 Most Healthy Milk Options

Food
7 Most Healthy Milk Options
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.


Here are the 7 healthiest milk and milk alternative options to add to your diet.

1. Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is made from ground, soaked hemp seeds, which do not contain the psychoactive component of the Cannabis sativa plant.

The seeds are high in protein and healthy omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats. Thus, hemp milk contains a slighter high amount of these nutrients than other plant milks.

An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of hemp milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 60
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Carbs: 0 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Phosphorus: 25% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Calcium: 20% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 15% of the DV
  • Iron: 10% of the DV

Hemp milk is virtually carb-free, but some brands add sweeteners, which increase the carb content. Make sure to check the ingredient label and buy hemp — and any other plant milk — without added sugar.

Sugar may be listed on the ingredient label as brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, or cane sugar.

SUMMARY: Hemp milk is made from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. While the beverage doesn't have any psychoactive effects, it provides more healthy fats and protein than other plant milks.

2. Oat Milk

Though drinking milk made by soaking whole oats doesn't offer quite the same health benefits as eating a bowl of whole grain oats, it is very nutritious.

Oat milk is naturally sweet from the oats and high in carbs. It's unusual in that it contains some soluble fiber, which makes oat milk a bit creamier.

Soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into a gel during digestion, which helps slow digestion and keeps you full for longer. It can also help stabilize your blood sugar levels.

What's more, the soluble fiber in oat milk may reduce your cholesterol levels. A 5-week study in 52 men showed that drinking oat milk lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, compared with a control beverage.

Although nutritional values can vary by brand and depending on how or whether the milk is fortified, an 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of Oatly oat milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Vitamin B12: 50% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 46% of the DV
  • Calcium: 27% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
  • Vitamin D: 18% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the DV

SUMMARY: Oat milk is higher in carbs than most other plant milks, and it also boasts extra fiber. Much of the fiber in oats is soluble fiber, which offers several health benefits, such as reducing your cholesterol levels and keeping you full for longer.

3. Almond Milk

Almond milk is made by soaking almonds in water and then blending and straining away the solids.

It's a tasty nondairy milk alternative for people who either can't tolerate or choose not to drink dairy milk, but it's not safe if you have a tree nut allergy.

Unsweetened almond milk is low in calories and much lower in carbs than cow's milk, making it a good choice if you follow a lower carb diet.

However, note that many brands contain added sugar. Always check the ingredient label and avoid those that are sweetened.

Although almond milk is a naturally good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, it's low in protein and many other nutrients. Many brands are fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D, but the amounts can vary by brand.

On average, an 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of unsweetened almond milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 41
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 2 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Vitamin E: 50% of the DV

Many brands contain additives like carrageenan to thicken and prevent separation.

There is some debate about whether carrageenan promotes intestinal inflammation and damage. Still, most of the research on carrageenan and gut health has been conducted in animals and labs.

SUMMARY: Almond milk is a good nondairy milk alternative, but nutritionally, it's quite different from cow's milk. If you're after its lower carb content, make sure you choose an unsweetened brand.

4. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is squeezed from the white flesh of a coconut. It has a pleasant flavor, and it's a good nondairy milk alternative that's safe if you have a tree nut allergy.

Most coconut milk packaged in cartons is blended with water to give it a consistency similar to that of cow's milk. It has even less protein than almond milk, but many brands are fortified with certain nutrients.

On the other hand, canned coconut milk is usually intended for culinary purposes. It tends to be higher in fat, is unfortified, and has a much more distinctive coconut flavor.

An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of an unsweetened coconut milk beverage provides the following:

  • Calories: 46
  • Protein: none
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • Fat: 4 grams

Coconut milk is a bit higher in fat than other plant milks, but the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconuts is linked to some heart health benefits, such as higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Some brands are also fortified with nutrients like vitamins B12, D, and A, as well as some minerals. The type and amount of nutrients added can vary among brands, so be sure to compare the labels.

SUMMARY: Coconut milk has a light, tropical flavor and is a safe dairy-free milk alternative for those who have a tree nut allergy. Because coconuts are a source of healthy MCTs, drinking coconut milk might boost your HDL (good) cholesterol.

5. Cow's Milk

Cow's milk is the most commonly consumed dairy milk and a good source of high-quality protein.

It's naturally rich in calcium, B vitamins, and many minerals. It's also often fortified with vitamins A and D, making it a very nutritious food for both children and adults.

An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of whole milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 149
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Vitamin D: 24% of the DV
  • Calcium: 28% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 26% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
  • Vitamin B12: 18% of the DV
  • Selenium: 13% of the DV
  • Potassium: 10% of the DV

Nevertheless, the protein in cow's milk is a common allergen. Most children outgrow it, but some people have a lifelong allergy and need to avoid this beverage and foods containing it.

In addition, an estimated 65% of the population has some degree of difficulty digesting lactose, a type of sugar in cow's milk.

SUMMARY: Regular cow's milk is an excellent source of nutrition, but due to lactose intolerance or milk protein allergy, many people have difficulty digesting it or must avoid it altogether.

6. A2 Milk

Approximately 80% of the protein in cow's milk comes from casein. Most dairy cows in the U.S. produce milk that has two main types of casein — A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein.

When A1 beta-casein is digested, a peptide called beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) is produced. It's linked to digestive symptoms similar to those of lactose intolerance in some people, including gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Certain dairy cows produce milk that contains only A2 beta-casein, which doesn't form the BCM-7 peptide. The a2 Milk Company markets A2 milk as an easier-to-digest option.

A small study in 45 people with self-reported lactose intolerance found that A2 milk was easier to digest and caused less digestive discomfort, compared with regular cow's milk.

Aside from casein, A2 milk is comparable to regular cow's milk. While it's not a good choice if you are allergic to milk protein or lactose intolerant, it might be worth a try if you experience mild digestive problems after drinking regular cow's milk.

SUMMARY: A2 milk contains only A2 beta-casein, and some people find it easier to digest than cow's milk. However, it's not a good choice if you've been diagnosed with a milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance.

7. Soy Milk

Nutritionally, soy milk comes closest to cow's milk. This is partly because soybeans are an excellent source of complete protein, as well as because it's fortified so that its nutritional profile closely resembles that of milk.

Soy is a great option if you avoid dairy but want a milk beverage that's higher in protein.

An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of unsweetened soy milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 105
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Vitamin B12: 34% of the DV
  • Calcium: 30% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin D: 26% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 10% of the DV

Soy has been the subject of controversy, as most soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate.

However, regularly consuming soy foods is linked to health benefits, including improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Furthermore, despite claims that soy may increase breast cancer risk because it mimics estrogen in the body, scientific studies suggest that it may reduce this risk.

Some brands produce organic soy milk, which is made from non-genetically modified organism (non-GMO) soybeans and free from conventional pesticides and herbicides.

SUMMARY: If you want a nondairy milk alternative that's higher in protein and nutritionally closer to cow's milk, consider soy milk. Drinking soy milk may also help reduce your cholesterol, blood pressure, and breast cancer risk.

The Bottom Line

All milk and milk alternative options offer various health advantages, such as reducing your cholesterol, boosting your antioxidant intake, or keeping you safe from an allergy or intolerance.

A good strategy may be to mix up the types of milk you drink. That way, you get the best of each of them, especially if you drink them alongside a healthy, whole foods diet.

Remember to check the labels for ingredients like added sugar or unwanted additives and avoid those with undesirable add-ins.

With the exception of soy milk, plant milk is quite a bit lower in protein and other nutrients than cow's milk. While that's not a significant concern for adults and older children, you should consult your pediatrician to check whether plant milk is appropriate for young children.

Reposted with permission from Healthline.

Sustainable t-shirts by Allbirds are made from a new, low-carbon material that uses a mineral extract from discarded snow crab shells. Jerry Buttles / Allbirds

In the age of consumption, sustainability innovations can help shift cultural habits and protect dwindling natural resources. Improvements in source materials, product durability and end-of-life disposal procedures can create consumer products that are better for the Earth throughout their lifecycles. Three recent advancements hope to make a difference.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

Trending

There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.

Read More Show Less
Financial institutions in New York state will now have to consider the climate-related risks of their planning strategies. Ramy Majouji / WikiMedia Commons

By Brett Wilkins

Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
The left image shows the OSIRIS-REx collector head hovering over the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) after the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism arm moved it into the proper position for capture. The right image shows the collector head secured onto the capture ring in the SRC. NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona / Lockheed Martin

A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch