April 05

Comparing Milks: Dairy, Almond, Soy, Rice, and Coconut

Milk is nature’s gift to mankind. It is the first food we took when we were born. Although not everybody can be just as lucky to be able to drink milk innately because of some health problems like heart disease, allergies, being lactose intolerant, and weight problems. Thankfully, there are healthy plant-based alternatives like almond, soy, rice and coconut milk that we can choose to continue receiving the same health benefits that regular milk offers.

Let’s take a look at the comparison of each type of milk so we can figure out what will fit us best.

Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk

This is commonly given to babies when breastmilk is not possible and for growing kids as well. It is a source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. It gives out 300 milligrams calcium and 1 cup of milk have vitamin B12 which is half of the recommended daily allowance. Cow’s milk has to be fortified normally with vitamin D to absorb calcium. Unfortunately, whole cow’s milk has a higher amount of fats and calories which are not good for those with a heart condition or maintaining a healthy weight. It also contains lactose which can be a problem for those who have a deficiency of lactase enzymes that helps in breaking down the lactose from milk. Lack of this enzyme can create digestive problems. Luckily, the dairy industry came up with variations to address these problems. Cow’s milk now comes in low fat and lactose-free. You can enjoy these varieties without having to go through with the negative effect of a cow’s milk.

Almond milk

Almond milk

This is the most popular plant-based milk favored by vegans and those with allergies to dairy. It that has a creamy and nutty taste that is similar to a cow’s milk. Almond milk is made from ground almonds with filtered water. The mixture is then strained to remove the solids. It may also contain some starches and thickeners to maintain its shelf life. Almond milk is inherently rich in vitamins and minerals especially vitamin E. Although it does not come naturally with calcium, protein and vitamin D, these nutrients are regularly added to the milk. It is low in calories and dairy free. Just make sure that the brand you are buying do not have added sugar in it. Moreover, those who have allergies to nuts must avoid this milk.

Soy milk

Soy milk

This type of milk is made of soybean and filtered water. Commercially made soy milk may contain thickeners also for longer shelf life. Like all other plant-based, soy milk is low in saturated fats, calories and is lactose-free. It is a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin A, B12, isoflavones and usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Downside of soy milk is that it also contains allergens and will not be good for those who have thyroid problems.

Rice milk

Rice milk

Is made of milled rice and water. Like any other plant-based milk, it also contains thickeners for consistency and longer shelf life. Sugar and other flavorings are also added to make it taste like a regular milk although it already had a natural sweetness to it among the other milk alternatives. It is lower in cholesterol, fats, and calories making it likewise popular to vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. It is also a good alternative for those who have allergy in soy and almond milk. It is not a natural source of calcium and protein but it can be fortified with calcium, niacin, vitamin B12, A and iron. It has a higher carbohydrate content that makes it not suitable for those who are diabetic.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk

This type of milk is not actually a milk. It is the liquid that is naturally stored in the mature coconut meat that when blended with filtered water and strained gives out the coconut “milk”. It is commonly referred to as coconut milk beverage and should not be confused to the coconut milk that is used in cooking that is in the can. Although its name is coconut, it is actually not a nut that’s why it is safe to drink by those who have allergies to nuts and grains. It is fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and A. It has a natural fatty acid like lauric acid that is a protective type of fatty acid that has antibacterial and antiviral properties good for the heart and lowering down cholesterol.

Whatever type of milk that you think suits your health, it is always good to consult first your health provider before incorporating it into your diet.

almonds coconut milk nuts rice soy