The cascade of vegan health trends have encouraged us to steer clear of dairy. Millennials, today more than ever, are opting for alternatives to regular whole-milk, including soy milk, almond milk and rice milk. Many of us drink these milk alternatives without knowing the differences between them, and whether or not there are actually benefits to drinking them. Below is a guide to milk alternatives, so that next time you hit the grocery store or Starbucks you can make the right decision about milk.
Soy milk, made from crushed soybeans, protein, water and oil, is 100% dairy free. The thick, creamy, uniquely delicious taste makes for an irresistible latte.
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- Less saturated fat & cholesterol than whole milk.
- Less sugar than whole and skim milk.
- Fewer calories: 1 cup of soy milk has about 80 calories. This is less than whole (146 calories) and about the same as skim (86 calories).
- More fiber: 1 cup has about 1.5-2 grams of fiber, compared to none in whole, skim and almond milk.
- Monounsaturated fatty acid: facilitates weight loss by preventing your intestines from absorbing fat.
- Longer shelf life: Unrefrigerated, unopened soy milk lasts in the pantry for 6 months after the date of production, and in the fridge for about 7-10 days.
- Protein: while soy milk does not contain as much regular protein as does whole, it contains tons of soy protein.
- Phytoestrogens: because it is essentially a much weaker version of the estrogen hormone, some argue that consuming too much soy can lead to negative health outcomes involving cancer. But don’t panic – research that says this research is weak and unclear.
Almond milk, a mixture of ground almonds and filtered water, is also 100% dairy free. Its crisp, refreshing and slightly sweet taste makes it my personal favorite.
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- Less saturated fat & cholesterol than whole and skim.
- Less sugar than whole and skim, and about the same as soy.
- Less calories: 1 cup has about 60 calories–less than soy, regular and skim milk.
- Omega fatty acids: almond milk is high in healthy fats.
- Vitamin D (for strong teeth, bones and immune system) and Vitamin E (for great skin).
- Longer shelf life: Like soy milk, unrefrigerated, unopened almond milk lasts in the pantry for 6 months after the date of production, and in the fridge for about 7-10 days.
- Less fiber than soy.
- Less protein and calcium than whole, skim and soy milk.
- More sodium than whole and skim.
Rice milk, made from rice syrup, starch and boiled rice, is sometimes sweetened with sugar and vanilla, and is 100% dairy free. It has a slightly thinner and sweeter taste than regular milk, and less nutritional benefits than almond and soy milk.
- Less cholesterol & saturated fat than whole and skim.
- More carbs than whole, skim, soy and almond.
- Less protein and calcium than whole, skim and soy.
- More calories: 120 in 1 cup–more than than skim, almond and soy.
- Less fiber than soy.