Best Milk Alternatives

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Thinking of ditching dairy milk because you’ve joined the vegan gang? Or are you among those who believe that milk is oversold and that there’s absolutely no need for pasteurized, homogenized, hormone and antibiotic-laden milk in the human diet? Whatever your reason for bidding adieu to the moo-moo, you can still enjoy a wide variety of non-dairy ‘milks’ – this article will run you through the pros and cons of milk substitutes.

HEMP MILK

This milk is made from hulled hemp seeds, water and a sweetener.

Pros:

  • Good alternative for people with gluten, nut and soy allergies.
  • Natural sweet and nutty flavor.
  • Rich in heart-healthy and skin-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.

Cons:

  • Quite expensive and not widely available.
  • Lacks calcium.

OAT MILK

This milk is prepared using hulled oat grains (oat groats) and water.

Pros:

  • Good source of calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin.
  • One cup contains 2g of fiber.

Cons:

  • Quite high in calories – one cup comes with 130kcal.

POTATO MILK

Potato milk is a new comer on the dairy-free market and is made using potatoes and water.

Pros:

  • Great for people with gluten sensitivities.

Cons:

  • High in carbohydrates.
  • Low in protein.
  • Not widely available and quite pricey.

RICE MILK

Rice milk is produced using boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch.

Pros:

  • Usually appropriate for people with nut and soy allergies – however, be sure to check the label since this milk is sometimes processed with nuts and soy.

Cons:

  • Too watery to be used in coffee or tea.
  • Contains 90kcal per cup but no protein and 20 to 24g of carbohydrates making it unsuitable for individuals with diabetes.
  • Very low in natural calcium.

SUNFLOWER MILK

Sunflower milk is another new addition to the non-dairy milk ‘collection’. It is made from whole sunflower kernels and water.

Pros:

  • Mild nutty flavor.
  • Thick and creamy.
  • Blends well in coffee and tea without leaving unsightly lumps.
  • Some brands are rich in folic acid and vitamin E.
  • Good source of phosphorus, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and manganese.

Cons:

  • Some people are turned off by the grayish color – one solution would be to use it in a green smoothie or in hot cocoa.
  • 1 cup contains only 1g of protein.

SOY MILK

Soy milk is probably the most widespread non-dairy milk on the market. It is a liquid extracted from soybeans.

Pros:

  • Rich in protein – 1 cup contains about 7g of protein.
  • Contains all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts.

Cons:

  • Studies have linked soy consumption to:

– Increased tumor growth in women with breast cancer;3

– Reduced risk of breast cancer in Asian women but not in Western populations;4

– A 50% reduction in sperm count (the study compared men who consumed one cup of soymilk per day to men who didn’t eat soy.)5

Note: More research is needed to confirm these results.

  • Soy contains trypsin, a compound that thwarts the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.
  • The sweetened and flavored versions are veritable sugar hits.

All of the above milks are completely free from lactose, casein and whey – they’re safe for folks with lactose intolerance or milk allergies. So, go ahead and enjoy every sip!

Works Cited

  1. Marten, B., Pfeuffer, M., & Schrezenmeir, J. (2006). Medium-chain triglycerides. International Dairy Journal, 16(11), 1374-1382.
  2. Tobacman, J. K. (2001). Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments. Environmental health perspectives, 109(10), 983.
  3. de la Parra, C., Otero-Franqui, E., Martinez-Montemayor, M., & Dharmawardhane, S. (2012). The soy isoflavone equol may increase cancer malignancy via up-regulation of eukaryotic protein synthesis initiation factor eIF4G. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(50), 41640-41650.
  4. Dong, J. Y., & Qin, L. Q. (2011). Soy isoflavones consumption and risk of breast cancer incidence or recurrence: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Breast cancer research and treatment, 125(2), 315-323.
  5. Chavarro, J. E., Toth, T. L., Sadio, S. M., & Hauser, R. (2008). Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic. Human Reproduction, 23(11), 2584-2590.

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