Health Tips: Four Alternatives to Dairy Milk
Whether you’ve been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, or just want to try something different, it’s good to know that there are quite a few alternatives to dairy milk.
We’ve researched four of them and found out more about their pros and cons.
Almond milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives. It’s made from ground almonds and water and can be found in sweetened and unsweetened versions.
It has a nutty flavour, and creamy texture that’s similar to dairy milk, but you’ll probably still need more of it in your tea or coffee to get the desired taste.
One of the benefits of almond milk is that it contains less fat and calories than dairy milk and it is a good source of vitamin E, providing about 50 per cent of the recommended daily value in one cup.
But almond milk doesn’t have a lot of the vitamins and minerals found in cow’s milk and also has far less protein.
Coconut milk is made from water and the white flesh of brown coconuts. It is probably the alternative milk that best resembles the dairy version with a nutty flavour and a thicker, creamy consistency.
Nutritionally coconut milk is a rich source of potassium compared to dairy milk, but it’s high in fat and lacks some of the benefits of dairy because it contains less protein and calcium.
Soy milk is either made of soybeans or soy protein isolate and is commonly sold in sweetened, unsweetened and flavoured varieties, including vanilla and chocolate.
This milk alternative is said to be the nutritional equivalent to cow’s milk containing a similar amount of protein, but around half the number of calories, fats and carbohydrates.
It is often fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D and riboflavin as well as thickeners and vegetable oils to improve taste and consistency.
However, it can cause a severe allergic reaction even if you have a minor intolerance to soy. There’s also concern about the large amount of isoflavones in soy, which can affect the way some hormones function.
This milk is usually made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. It has a thin, watery consistency so is best in hot drinks rather than as a cooking or baking substitute.
Out of all the milk alternatives, rice milk is the most hypoallergenic and easy to digest, because it doesn’t contain soy, gluten or nuts. However, it is high in carbohydrates and low in protein and calcium compared to dairy milk.
Rice milk also has a high glycemic index of 79–92, which means it is absorbed quickly in the gut and rapidly raises blood sugar levels so may not be the best option for people with diabetes.