I remember the days when if you were allergic, intolerant, Vegan, Vegetarian or just didn’t like the taste of cow’s milk, soy milk was your only alternative. These days there is a whole section of the supermarket fridge and shelves dedicated to non-dairy milk alternative. Soy, rice oat almond coconut milk, which one is right for you and how do you chose a healthy alternative to cows milk?
Cows milk is naturally a rich source of Calcium, Vit D and B12. The non-dairy equivalents are low in all these nutrients so look for a fortified version. Aim for 120mg calcium per 100ml. This is the same for non-dairy coconut yoghurts.
Soy milk is the only non-dairy milk that has protein content similar to cows milk (3mg/100ml). All other milks are very low in protein (0.5-1mg) so make sure you get your daily protein requirements from other food sources or use a rice or pea protein powder to fortify your milk.
Many non-diary milks contain added sugar/sweetener to improve the taste. Look for non-sweetened options. Read the ingredients label to ensure no sweeteners have been added not just sugar.
Non-dairy milks are lower in calories than cow’s milk due to their low fat content. Coconut is the exception here. It is higher in fat than cows milk with 100% of that being saturated fat.
Non-dairy milks are not a health food; they naturally contain minimal nutrition but are a welcome alternative to cows milk. Personally I don’t drink cows milk or use a non-dairy alternative, my diet just does not seem to need a milk or milk alternative but if you do then aim for nutrient fortified, unsweetened variety that you like the taste of.