Differences Between Non-Dairy Milk Options

Have you ditched dairy or considering something new? Read labels. Many faux milks are lower in protein, contain less nutrients (ie: calcium and vitamin D) and have added sugar. Here’s the dish on various non-dairy options:

Almond Milk

A lactose-free alternative with more vitamin E than cow’s milk. It’s very low in calories, containing just 30, and has very little protein. Choose an unsweetened variety.

Pea Milk

This milk, made from split peas, can have as much protein as regular milk, and it contains iron, vitamin D and omega-3s. The floury taste isn’t for everyone, so maybe don’t but a gallon to start. One caution: peas are estrogenic.

Hemp Milk

Lower in protein, but often enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. Check the ingredients to rule out added sugars – look for unsweetened hemp fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D.. (And no, this milk won’t give you a buzz. Sorry!)

Coconut Milk

Has a unique flavor coconut fans will enjoy, and is a great addition when cooking. Nutritionally, it’s a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and B vitamins. Most have added sugars, so opt for the unsweetened variety. My biggest complaint is it doesn’t contain any protein.

Cashew Milk

Fairly comparable to almond milk in calorie and fat counts (about 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per cup). It’s low in protein. Making your own is fairly easy, and contains a bit more nutrition.

Cashew milk is slightly sweeter and creamier to taste, so if you’re not into the nuttiness of almond milk, this may be a better choice.

Rice Milk

If you have a sensitive stomach, rice milk tends to be a good hypoallergenic option. One con – it contains a ton of sugar (a whopping 10 grams in a cup) and 25 grams of carbs per serving.

Soy Milk

A naturally lactose-free option, but thanks to the phytoestrogens in soy, it has a controversial history. It’s low in fat and high in protein, and is often fortified with vitamins A and B12. Avoid sweetened varieties.

Goat Milk

One of the original alternative to goat’s milk. It’s high in protein (8.5 grams per cup) and packs many nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Many types come fortified with vitamin D.

Flax Milk

High in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s typically low in fat and calories. It can also be high in protein, keeping you feeling full longer. One downside is flax contains phytoestrogens called lignons, and is therefore thought to increase estrogen levels. Those who already have high levels of estrogen should choose another option.

There are so many good things in nuts and seeds. Aside from drinking non-dairy mik, I encourage you to also include a variety of raw, unsalted nuts in your diet everyday. I love this infographic to view the calories and major nutrients in the most popular nuts and seeds. 

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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