Ever wondered what’s the best milk alternative ?
While less than 5% of the UK population is affected, up to 50% of the populations of South America, Africa and Asia suffer from it.
With lactose intolerance (or dairy intolerance) becoming more and more of a common problem, many people are turning to alternative milks. These vary in levels of nutrition, colour, flavor and texture.
Most alternative milks are now fortified with calcium (which helps build strong bones and teeth, and ensures that blood clots normally) and vitamin D (which is important for encouraging the absorption of calcium from food) so they have many of the benefits of normal milk.
1. Almond Milk
Made from ground almonds, water and in most cases it is sweetened. Almond milk has a bland, flavor and is one of the healthiest powerfoods among foods. It is rich in antioxidants including anti-ageing vitamin E, which fights off free-radicals. The fats in almond milk are healthy omega-6 fats and not saturated fats, which have been shown to have a negative effect on cholesterol as well as on the heart.
It is a great weight-loss aid as it only contains 30 calories per serving.
Almond milk’s negative is that it contains far less protein than dairy milk or soy milk.
2. Soy Milk
Soy milk is very common among vegan, vegetarian and health-conscious bodybuilders. It is best to choose a soy milk that is GMO free and made from organic edamame. Soy milk provides more protein than a regular glass of milk as well as a good amount of calcium, manganese, magnesium, choline, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, selenium and potassium.
Soy milk also resembles the taste of cow’ milk more so than other alternative milk.
Certainly, people with soy allergies and hypothyroidism must stay away from soy milk. Hypothyroidism is generally treated with synthetic thyroid hormone — and soy has long been thought to interfere with the body's ability to absorb the medication. However, there's no evidence that people who have hypothyroidism should avoid soy completely. It has also been shown to negatively impact male fertility.
3. Hazelnut Milk
Hazelnut is the new “in” alternative milk, especially in Californian coffee houses where they’ve added it to their own coffees since it tastes much better with coffee than conventional cow’s milk.
The hazelnut has a wonderful aroma, tastes absolutely heavenly, and it has supreme nutrition over a number of other vegan milk alternatives. It is a good source of calcium, vitamins E, B1, B2 and B6 which are all essential in blood formation and mental health and the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which has been proven to help keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk most resembles the texture of dairy milk. It is made from the exotic coconut fruit and has become a staple in the kitchens of vegans, the health conscious and people who avoid dairy. It is rich in essential minerals, including manganese, selenium, copper, zinc and iron. Coconut milk has far more potassium per cup than dairy milk and also higher in fat content than other alternative milks.
5. Rice Milk
Rice milk is one of the more popular alternative milks. It is made from boiled rice and brown rice syrup, making it healthy blend of carbohydrates and protein with very little fat per serving unlike the other nut and seed milk alternatives. It is also one of the cheaper alternative milks.
This alternative milk is the most hypoallergenic alternative as it is free from soy, gluten, nuts and seeds, which is important for those who are allergic and cannot tolerate these ingredients.
Rice milk is not ideal if you are trying to lose weight as it is high in carbohydrates and low in calcium and protein compared to cow’s milk. It is also not a good milk to be used in baking or cooking as it is thin and watery.
All in all rice is a great alternative milk to start with for anyone trying to find a healthy alternative milk product.
6. Flax Milk
Flax milk is sweet, a little thin yet quite creamy and delicious. Flax milk is high in alpha linoleic acids which are a group of Omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Most flax seed milk is produced by organic, ethically responsible companies that use non-GMO flaxseeds.
Flax milk is low in protein and also tends to be heavily sweetened, so choose brands with less sugar in them. Flax milks are fortified with calcium, so it is good for those who tend to need adequate levels of this mineral.
7. Hemp Milk
Hemp is an incredibly healthy choice know for it’s “earthy” flavor. It contains ten essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for vegan athletes, body builders or others who need to refuel and build muscle. Hemp milk also contains a very ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and also contains a good deal of thiamin, niacin, calcium, fiber, potassium, etc. A great choice for the health-conscious person, hemp milk is a great way to get all of your essential vitamins and minerals. It is also a good choice for those avoiding or have allergies to gluten, nuts or soy.
Beware of added sugars as the store bought varieties may have more sugar added than is thought healthy ! You can also attempt to make your own if need be. Hemp milk is a great way to get all of your essential vitamins and minerals making it a great choice for the health-conscious person.
8. Oat Milk
Oat milk is one of the nutritious milks made from oat groats. Oats have been shown to reduce “bad” cholesterol while raising “good” cholesterol levels. It provides about 4-5g of plant protein per serving. Many oat milks are also fortified with vitamin D making it a sensible alternative to dairy milks.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !