Which Milk Alternative is Best For You
by Vickie Chin on Nov 30, 2021
So, you’re ready to ditch the dairy and you’re starting with milk. With so many options out there (who knew you could milk an oat?!), it can be confusing trying to figure out which one is best for you. We’re going to make that easier. Here’s the tea, or in this case milk, on which dairy free milk alternative is right for you.
Before we begin, it’s important to understand that we’re not saying that dairy milk is bad for you. In fact, cow’s milk is actually quite nutritious. It contains healthy fats, animal protein, carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin B. One cup of milk contains roughly 8 grams of protein, 25% of your RDI of vitamin D and calcium and 10% of your daily potassium. Not only is cow’s milk pretty nutritious, it’s also inexpensive.
So why ditch the dairy?
Although people have various reasons for choosing not to drink cow’s milk, one of the most common is due to intolerance. Lactose intolerance is caused by your bodies’ inability to make lactase, the enzyme that breaks down and digests lactose. A great alternative for those who suffer from dairy intolerance is lactose free milk. The great thing about lactose free milk is that it is like regular milk in both taste and texture. There is however one common misconception when it comes to lactose free milk: that is doesn’t contain lactose. It does. Manufacturing companies simply add the enzyme lactase, so your body can break down the lactose and digest the sugar more easily.
Clearly if you’re opting for a lactose free milk as your “dairy free” alternative, you’re not really ditching the dairy. This is great if you’re lactose intolerant but don’t what about if you’re looking for a plant-based alternative all together? Here are some of your options:
Let’s talk about everyone’s current plant-based milk obsession: oat milk. This alternative is a top contender these days for several reasons, the biggest being its allergen friendliness: it’s dairy, lactose, soy and nut free! Talk about a quadruple threat. Of all the alternatives it is the closest to milk calorie wise while containing more protein and fibre plus zero saturated fats. What about micronutrients? Manufacturers actually fortify oat milk with all the nutritional benefits you need. Loved by vegans, plant-based and gluten-free people alike, oat milk is always a good option (we especially love it frothed on our Focus Fuel coffee).
Another popular option you hear about often is soy milk. Fun fact: of all the dairy free alternatives out there, soy milk has been around the longest making it easy to find. It has the most balanced nutritional profile of all the options listed thus far. Like oat milk, soy milk is fortified with vitamins A, D and B12 but tends to be lower in calories and carbohydrates. Just like cow’s milk, soy milk is priced lower than most dairy-free alternatives so it won’t break the bank. One thing to note is that soy milk doesn’t do well with high temperatures and will often curdle. So, if your morning coffee needs to be steamed with milk at exactly 180 degrees, soy milk isn’t the option for you.
Next let’s talk almond milk. An alternative that took the world by absolute storm in 2011 (sales went up 79% that year) it surpasses most alternatives on our list in popularity. Being the closest in texture and taste to traditional milk with less calories, we understand why the above stats are true. Almond milk sits at an impressive 40 calories per cup with only 2 grams of fat, which is absolutely nuts. Unsweetened, unfortified almond milk offers little protein and fibre, making it somewhat lack luster from a nutritional point of view. On the plus side, almond milk is extremely easy to make at home with a little soaking and a food processor. This also helps you skip on the additives and preservatives plus you can get creative by trying out different flavour combinations!
Last but certainly not least, we have Coconut milk. Clocking in at 45 calories and 4.5 gram of fat per cup, coconut milk is great as another great low calories option. Just be sure you’re reaching for a carton of coconut milk vs canned, full fat coconut milk. The latter is full of healthy fats and should be saved for cooking and making desserts. Coconut milk is unique in that it contains medium-chain triglycerides aka MCT’s. MCT’s are known for a variety of benefits which you can learn more about here on our blog. Notably, MCT’s have shown to increase insulin sensitivity. Coconut milk is a good option if you’re looking to switch to a plant-based milk, you’re allergic to nuts or you’re gluten-free.
We don’t know about you guys, but all of those milk options sounded great to us, which can make choosing pretty hard. But who says you have to? Depending on your preference or diet your choice might be clear but if not, consider that a well rounded diet that includes a variety of milk alternatives is extremely healthy in balancing your nutritional intake!