Most milk consumed in the United States is from a cow, but more people have turned to milk alternatives like nut, rice, and coconut milks. They are lactose free, which is great for those who are lactose intolerant, but do they have enough nutrition? Although some alternative milks are fortified with vitamins to compensate for the loss of real milk vitamins, these can be found in other food or supplements as well. But let’s take a look at what these milks are all about.
Soy milk is similar to milk in the way of protein, carbs, and texture, and has lower fat than these other alternative milks. It as has phytonutrients, which are very healthy compounds found in plant foods that we eat. It also has 75% more antioxidants than cow’s mlk!
Per cup, soy milk has 100 calories, 4 grams of fat (3.5 of which are good fats), 300 mg of potassium, 8g of carbs, 6g of sugar and 7g of protein. It has 50% of your vitamin B-12 for the day, 30% of your vitamin D, and 30% of your calcium, among other vitamins and minerals. These nutritional facts could go up or down depending on what kind of soy milk you buy, as is true with all of these we’re discussing.
This nutty milk really doesn’t need to be fortified with vitamins, as almonds are already rich in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron and others. It’s also a good source of monounsaturated fat, lowering bad cholesterol in the blood stream. It’s very tasty too!
Per cup, almond milk has 60 calories, 2.5g of fat (1.5 is monounsaturated), 150mg of potassium, 8g carbs, 1g fiber, 7g sugar, and 1g of protein. Daily values of vitamins and minerals include 10% vitamin A, and 30% calcium, among others.
Cashew milk does not have as much nut flavor as other nut milks, but it’s a good source of minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc, along with healthy fats.
Per cup, cashew milk has 150 calories, 10g of fat (of which 8g are healthy fats), 130mg of potassium, 13g of carbs, 7g sugar, and 3.5g of protein. Daily values of vitamins and minerals include 25% copper, 15% magnesium, and a healthy balance of other vitamins/minerals.
This is the most watery of these milks, but it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (which treats inflammation and is good for the heart). Some people think it has a gritty taste, and some like it, so you’d have to taste it to know, of course.
Per cup, original hemp milk has 130 calories, 3g of fat, 113mg potassium, 20g of carbs, 1g of fiber, 15g sugar, and 4 g protein. Daily values of vitamins and minerals include 18% vitamin A, 25% vitamin D, 46% calcium, 43% phosphorus, and 31% riboflavin. It also has vitamin E, iron, magnesium, thiamin and zinc.
If you love coconut, you’ll probably love this milk, but it’s a subtle flavor. People love this milk as a dairy creamer alternative in their coffee because it’s so thick.
Per cup, coconut milk has a whopping 550 calories, 57g of fat, 13g carbs, 8g of sugar, and 5g of protein. It’s not too high in vitamins, but is rich in copper, manganese, iron, and selenium, among others. It’s best to only have small portions of this at a time, like being part of a smoothie for taste.
Rice milk is great for those with nut allergies or who are lactose intolerant, but is high in carbs and low in protein. It is, however, high in vitamin B-12 and D, but other than that, there’s no great advantage to drinking rice milk versus the other milks.
Per cup, rice milk has 100 calories, 2g of fat, 23g of carbs, and 15g of sugar. Daily values are 50% vitamin B-12, 30% vitamin D, 25% vitamin E, and 30% calcium. It has almost the same vitamin values as soy milk, but none of the other benefits.
Only you can judge for yourself what is best for you. The real milk industry is going after alternative milks for not being real milks, but it’s most likely because their sales are seeing a small decline. Soy milk seems to be the winner, but almond milk tastes better, in my opinion. Try them all and see what you think, but be careful with the coconut milk!