Cow Milk. Almond. Soy. Coconut. Hemp. Rice.
The varieties of milk now available in the supermarket are endless. Long gone are the days that a cold bottle of milk arrived on the doorstep each morning, with a coloured aluminium foil top to distinguish fat content. A red top labelled those that were health conscious whereas blue labelled the full fat creamy variety of milk that we all loved to splash over our cereal. We have moved quite quickly from this simple doorstep delivery to being provided with a whole aisle dedicated to dairy options at the supermarket.
While options are of course good, they are also confusing: What is dairy intolerance and do you have it? Why is everyone suddenly raving about soy lattes? Where did almond milk suddenly appear from and why has it gained such popularity?
In today’s blog, we are going to look at the milk options available and break down the nutritional content of each type so you have a better understanding of what is right for you and your body.
+ Cows milk is great if you want to add good amounts of protein, calcium and vitamin D to your diet. This is the most commonly available milk and it comes in full fat, low fat and non-fat versions. You can also choose organic and grass-fed versions, which have an even healthier profile, with more Omega 3.
– Cows milks isn’t recommended if you are dairy or lactose intolerant. Those that do suffer from this latter condition feel bloated after drinking cows milks as they have problems with digestion, due to deficiency of an enzyme called lactase.
+ This plant-based alternative is great if you need a non-dairy milk option and if you suffer from dairy intolerance. Almond milk is both creamy and nutty in taste, so many people find this to be a great alternative if they are looking to transition away from cow’s milk. Made from water and ground almonds, it is a good option if you want to reduce your calorie intake, but still get plenty of calcium and vitamin D.
– Almond milk isn’t so great if you rely on milk as a protein source, unless you specifically source an option with added protein.
+ Soy milk is a great option if you are dairy and lactose intolerant. It is also great if you are focusing on weight loss, as it contains virtually no saturated fat, but good levels of fibre and protein. Fibre is not often found in milk and is great for gut function.
– Soy milk should of course be avoided by soy allergy sufferers and recent breast cancer patients. You should also try to avoid the flavoured varieties as they come with a lot of added sugar.
+ Coconut Milk adds a fantastic natural sweetness to food and drinks. A great tip is to try it in your porridge or latte instead of adding sweeteners or sugar.
– Coconut milk isn’t so great if you are reducing your saturated fat intake as once cup contains around 20% of your daily limit, so it should be consumed in moderation.
+ Rich in calcium, magnesium and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, hemp milk is a great source of nutrients, whilst still being low in saturated fat. It is cholesterol free, dairy free, gluten free and soy free so it is great if you have allergies. It is also useful to know that hemp milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so you can save some fridge space!
– Hemp milk isn’t always easily available, and is very low in protein compared to cows milk. It also doesn’t mix into hot drinks like tea and coffee well.
+ Rice Milk is another one of our lactose free alternatives! It is also a great option if you suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Made by straining rice and large volumes of water, this carbohydrate rich milk is great as an energy source also.
– Many rice milks have to be fortified with calcium, protein and vitamins, as it lacks these nutrients in its natural form. Be careful not to choose a variety with lots of added sugar also.