Dairy Vs. Non-Dairy Milk
Growing up, you might have heard that dairy is an essential part of a healthy diet. Cow's milk had a celebrity status as it contains the nourishing goodness of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Today the scenario is entirely different. More and more customers are ditching dairy for environ-mental and health reasons. As a result, there's a growing demand for non-dairy alternatives.
Dairy foods, especially milk, offer a unique package of nutrients that provide optimal growth and development and a lower risk of chronic diseases.
The nutrients present in milk include calcium, protein, vitamin D, potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and more. A research study (1) says people who consume at least two servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt every day were found to have a lower risk of stroke and heart disease. Alternatively, a high intake of full-fat dairy products has been linked to inflammation. A recent study (2) points out that dairy milk consumption can increase breast cancer rates to about 50 per-cent.
In certain conditions, casein and whey protein in dairy milk could aggravate or trigger skin conditions like rosacea and acne. Cow's milk may not be suitable for everyone. You might suffer from a milk allergy or lactose in-tolerance, or may have dietary restrictions, and potential health risks.
If you're unable or chose not to consume dairy, there are a host of other dairy-free milk to choose from.
Here are a few great recommendations for non-dairy milk:
1) Almond Milk
Usually made with either almond butter and water or whole almonds, almond milk has a sweet and nutty flavor with a light texture. You can add it to your coffee or tea, in smoothies and as a substitute for cow's milk in baked goods and desserts. Compared to cow's milk, it has lower amounts of protein and carbohydrates.
Pros: If you're on a low-calorie diet, almond milk is the best option as it is the lowest calorie non-dairy milk available. Also, it's a natural source of vitamin E and helps fight free radicals.
Cons: It contains less of the beneficial nutrients, fiber, protein, and healthy fats that are present in whole almonds as almond milk is mainly made up of water.
It also contains phytic acid, which lowers the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium in your body.
2) Coconut Milk
The white flesh of brown coconuts and water combine to give the nutritious coconut milk. It has a sweet and subtle flavor with a creamy texture. Coconut milk has half the fat and significantly fewer carbohydrates and proteins and one-third calories compared to cow's milk.
Pros: 90 percent of fat in coconut milk comes from saturated fat, including medium-chain triglycer-ides. Research suggests that MCTs may help in weight loss and improve blood cholesterol levels.
Cons: Coconut milk has the lowest carbohydrate and protein content than any other type of non-dairy milk. So it may not be the best option for those with increased protein requirements.
Studies point out that coconut oil may increase the levels of total and bad cholesterol to a large ex-tent than unsaturated oils. At the end of the day consuming coconut milk as part of a healthy diet should not pose any problem.
3) Oat Milk
Oat milk is a combination of oats and water, but manufacturers add extra ingredients such as oils, gums, and salt to improve its flavor. Unprocessed oats do not contain gluten but get often processed in the same equipment used for making wheat products, so oat milk might not always be gluten-free. If you're particular about glu-ten, then go in for oat milk brands that are certified gluten-free.
Having a naturally sweet and mild flavor oat milk finds its use in the same way as cow's milk. Add oat milk to your cereals or smoothies and enjoy a yummy treat.
Pros: Oat milk is high in protein and fiber, especially beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that forms a gel as it passes through the gut.
It reduces harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Also, it increases feelings of fullness and aids in lower-ing blood glucose levels. Above all, it's pocket friendly.
Cons: Oat milk is high in calories and carbohydrates.
4) Rice Milk
Rice milk is made from brown or white rice and water. Also, thickeners are added to it to improve taste and texture. It has a mild taste and a naturally sweet flavor. Its watery consistency makes it a great addition to oatmeal smoothies and desserts.
Rice milk contains less protein and fat compared to cow's milk. Likewise, it has a similar number of calories and almost has double the carbohydrates to that of cow's milk.
Pros: It is a safe option for those with allergies to dairy, gluten, soy, or nuts, as rice milk is the least allergenic of all the dairy milk.
Cons: Rice milk has a high amount of carbohydrates. Foods with a high glycemic index can swiftly increase blood sugar levels as they get quickly absorbed in your gut. Therefore rice milk is not suitable for people with diabetes.
Also, rice milk is not the best option for growing children, the elderly, and athletes due to low pro-tein content.
5) Soy Milk
Soy milk has a mild and creamy flavor and works as the best substitute for cow's milk with coffee, cereal, or savory dishes. Mainly made with either soy protein isolate or soybeans, soy milk contains a similar amount of protein to cow's milk and around half the amount of fats, calories, and carbohydrates.
Pros: It provides all essential amino acids and is one of the few plant sources of high-quality complete protein.
Cons: Soy milk contains large amounts of isoflavones that can affect estrogen receptors and the function of your hormones.
Also, it's not recommended for people with FODMAP intolerance. FODMAP's are carbohydrates that cause gas and bloating.
Things to consider when substituting dairy-free milk
- Calcium content: Most dairy-free milk is enriched with calcium. It is best to go in for dairy-free milk that contains 120mg of calcium per 100ml to boost your calcium levels.
- Added sugar: Sugar is added to enhance flavor, so avoid brands with sugar as one of the three top ingredients.
- Dietary needs: Be sure to check the labels if you are allergic to gluten, nuts, and soy.