The wide variety of plant-based milk products to choose from these days can be quite overwhelming. They can be made from plant foods like soy, almond, coconut, rice and oat – just to name a few. But what is the best milk to choose, not only from a health perspective, but also for the environment and for your wallet? There are different motives to consume non-dairy products and the best option for the one person may not suit another person. In this blog, we take your through the pros and cons of the most popular milk alternatives.
Soy milk is made with either soybeans or soy protein and the fortified version has been rated as being the closest to cow’s milk. It contains the daily requirements for many vitamins and minerals, has as much protein as cow’s milk, but only half of the fat. The fact that it has only a third of the calories ánd is animal-friendly, makes this a fantastic substitute. Soy milk is great for baking as it has the same texture and consistency as cow’s milk, however, it’s a common allergen for both adults and children which eliminates it as a suitable alternative in many cases.
Almond milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives. It is low in calories but lacks in nutrition. Quite shocking is that 250ml of almond milk only contains about 4 almonds. For this reason, it is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, making it a great product to use in cereal and can be seen as a good kickstart of the day. From an environmental point of view, almond milk is scoring the lowest as a large amount of water is needed to cultivate almonds.
The natural richness and sweetness of coconut milk makes it the perfect substitute to use in soups and curries. It’s packed with natural iron, vitamins and calcium, but is very high in fat on the other hand. The amount of fat is double compared to whole fat milk, and in general, coconut milk is more expensive.
Oat milk is known for its naturally sweet flavour that works very well for in the coffee and tea as it steams and froths better than any other plant-based milk. It’s easy and cheap to make at home, but be aware of the large number of natural sugars it contains! Oat milk is a lot better for the environment than almonds, as it only requires a sixth of the water that almonds require to grow. It’s not the ideal substitute for people with a coeliac disease, as it’s generally not gluten-free.
Rice milk is made from milled rice and water and is the least likely to cause allergies. It’s high in carbohydrates, which is good to pump up your energy level, but doesn’t make it the best choice for people with diabetes. It’s often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and has a nice natural sweetness making it a good option to use for tea and smoothies. Although people may prefer oat milk, as it is more creamy.
To conclude the comparison, it really depends on your motive, taste and occasion what plant-based milk would be best to use. We would recommend to try them out and find the substitutes that work best for you in different situations. Bear in mind that in general all plant-based milk products are low in nutrients – except for carbohydrates. Therefore, it’s recommended to choose the versions that are fortified or enriched and have added calcium and vitamin D. Added sugars and water are often key ingredients, making it very important to choose the unsweetened version when possible.
So, what’s your go-to milk?
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