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?
MotivatePT is 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.
Cow’s milk is a great option 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 nonfat versions. You can also choose organic and grass-fed versions, which have an even healthier profile, with more Omega 3. On the downside, 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.
So, what actually is lactose free? Regular milk contains lactose (sugar) and lactose-free milk does not. This is a good option for people who are lactose intolerant as the lactose has been removed. This makes it much easier to digest for those who are intolerant. When buying lactose free milks its important to make sure that they still contain a good amount of calcium. One thing to remember is that when calcium has been added to dairy-free milks it tends to sink to the bottom, so, before you drink it ensure that you shake it beforehand. Be careful that the dairy-free milks tend to have added sweeteners in the form of sugar, honey and other sweeteners to improve the taste. It is best if you opt for unsweetened varieties.
Almond milk is a plant-based alternative to milk and is great if you need a non-dairy milk option or 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. It is made from water and ground almonds and it is a good option if you want to reduce your calorie intake, but it’ll still give you plenty of calcium and vitamin D. The only disadvantage to almond milk is that it isn’t so great if you rely on milk as a protein source, unless you specifically source an option with added protein. Another factor to consider is that it is not very environmentally friendly. Throughout the process of making the almond milk, there is a lot of food waste, this is due to the pulp being extracted and is often tossed away.
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. The only problem with Soy milk is that it 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.
Hemp milk is rich in calcium, magnesium and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, it 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! On the flip side, hemp milk isn’t always easily available, and is very low in protein compared to cow’s 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. The disadvantage of rice milk is that many 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.