Milk Alternatives: How to Pick the Best One for You!

There are many milk alternatives from which to choose to meet your dietary preferences. From front to back: Cow's milk; Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk, and Hemp Milk.

I love milk.  It’s often my first beverage of choice.  Fortunately for my sons, I have passed onto them my “milk-liking” genes. But, to my dismay, my daughter has not acquired a taste for cow’s milk, which has concerned me.  I know that the calcium and protein naturally present in milk are essential for her bone growth and healthy development into womanhood.  Therefore, over the last few years, my mission has been to find a milk alternative that will catch her fancy and give me peace-of-mind that she is getting the adequate nutrients she needs for her growing body.

Are you in a similar situation – either for yourself or a loved one? There are many viable options available on the market, even more so than when I first started my endeavor.  Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of some of the milk alternatives that I have come across in my search for my daughter.

Soy Milk: Probably the first milk alternative that comes to mind to many and the most widely available.

Pros:

  • The quality of protein is considered to be equal to that present in cow’s milk.
  • Lactose and cholesterol free.
  • Contains little saturated fat.
  • Fortified sources can provide as much calcium per serving as cow’s milk.
  • Studies have shown that soy protein lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Contains anticancer compounds (isoflavones) that protect against breast and prostate cancers.
  • May alleviate some symptoms of menopause due to the mild estrogenic activity of the isoflavones (phytoestrogens).
  • Available in low- and nonfat versions and various flavors (e.g., vanilla, chocolate, etc.,).
  • Can be used in cooking and baking.

Cons:

  • A common allergen.
  • Should be restricted or avoided in women with a history of estrogen sensitive breast tumors.
  • May effect sperm concentration in men.

Rice Milk: A grain milk typically made from brown rice, it is thinner in consistency than soy or cow’s milk.

Pros:

  • An alternative for individuals who cannot digest soy protein or who have nut allergies.
  • Lactose and cholesterol free.
  • Naturally sweeter in taste than soy or cow’s milk and, therefore, my be acceptable to picky palates.
  • Available in various flavors (e.g., vanilla, chocolate, etc.,).
  • Can be used in baking (Note: its naturally sweet flavor makes it less suitable for cooking savory dishes).

Cons:

  • Does not naturally contain significant amounts of protein.
  • Not a good source of calcium unless fortified.
  • Higher in carbohydrates than cow’s milk.

Almond Milk: Made from ground almonds, almond milk has a creamy consistency similar to cow’s milk.

Pros:

  • Alternative for individuals who cannot digest soy protein.
  • A vegan alternative to cow’s milk.
  • Lactose and cholesterol free.
  • Contains less saturated fat than cow’s milk.
  • Available in various flavors (e.g., vanilla, chocolate, etc.,)
  • Can be used in baking (Note: its sweet taste makes it less suitable for cooking savory dishes).

Cons:

  • Not suitable for individuals with nut allergies.
  • Not as widely available as soy milk and may be harder to find in certain geographic areas.

Hemp Milk: Made from soaking and grinding hemp seeds (Note: does not contain THC found in marijuana).  It offers a creamy and nutty flavor.

Pros:

  • Alternative for individuals with soy and nut allergies.
  • Cholesterol and lactose free.
  • Low in saturated fats.
  • Rich in healthy omega fatty acids.
  • Excellent source of protein (contains 10 essential amino acids).
  • Calcium-fortified varieties serve as a significant source of calcium.
  • Available in various flavors (e.g., vanilla, chocolate, etc.,).
  • Can be used in cooking and baking.

Cons:

  • Not as widely available as other milk alternatives and can be difficult to find in certain geographic areas.
  • Tends to be a bit higher in price than other milk alternatives.

Individuals and families have different reasons and dietary preferences for not consuming cow’s milk.  This decision, however, does not mean nutrition has to be compromised.  Healthy alternatives are available.  Experiment with the different choices through baking and cooking.  Taste-tests of the various products can be fun and turned into a family adventure (e.g., each family member can give ratings on a scale from 1-10 on flavor, consistency, etc.,).

Do you have a favorite milk alternative?  What is it?  Do you use it in recipes?  Share with us, we want to know!

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6 Comments

Filed under almond milk, cow's milk, hemp milk, milk alternatives, rice milk, soy milk

6 responses to “Milk Alternatives: How to Pick the Best One for You!

  1. I discovered almond milk a couple of years ago, and now I much prefer it to cow’s milk!The nutty flavor works especially well with cold cereal or homemade granola.Great article!

  2. Pingback: Bits and Pieces … News Around the Blogosphere | Fresh and Frugal

  3. I LOVE almond milk. Our WalMart has it which means it might be more available. Also, they now have a sugar free alternative which might be better for savory dishes. I use my regular stuff in savory dishes…makes them a little sweeter but doesn’t ruin any recipes.

  4. I love almond milk myself. I use it in my morning smoothies and with cereal. I have had chronic issues with constipation in the past, but when I cut out dairy products, I found that my constipation ended. I am leery of soy products though. The soy we produce in America is not the same as what they use in Asia and I think the jury is still out about how healthy our manufactured soy is.

  5. Love Hemp Seed Milk (Vanilla). Great for AM smoothies!

  6. Pingback: Bits and Pieces… Items from the Blogosphere | freshandfrugalchallenge.com

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