Perusing the dairy aisle at the local supermarket shows just how many choices we have when it comes to not only old-fashioned cow’s milk, but also non-dairy options like soy, almond and coconut milks. But most of us don’t spend more than a few seconds deciding which carton to grab. Every milk offers its own nutritional perks and drawbacks – some more than others.
Here is the low down of common milks to help you decide which one is best for you!
While cow’s milk contains more calcium and protein than other milk alternatives, it does have its downfalls. The cow’s milk we buy in the supermarket these days holds little nutritional value. The amount of processing that it goes through significantly affects its nutritional composition, so you may be better off choosing a more nutritious option. Adding to this is the way that cows are treated, what they are being fed (cows fed GMO grains do not have an ideal omega3 profile), and the environment they live in.
If you can tolerate dairy, experiment with raw, organic dairy products where cows are grass fed and free to roam, particularly fermented dairy such as Greek yoghurt and raw cheese. If it is found to be problematic, eliminate it.
If you’re lactose intolerant where the body doesn’t produce the enzyme to break down the milk sugar, then you need to avoid milk. If you have an allergy (over reaction of the immune system to a specific food protein in dairy) then again you will need to avoid milk. However, this problem can be alleviated through a controlled gut healing diet.
Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. So drinking milk made from these nutritious nuts are a great milk alternative. Almond milk is also high in vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper and good fats. However, be careful when you buy the costly store-bought almond milk from a carton. Some have a lot of sugar added, so check the label and buy the non-sweetened version. With all cartooned store-bought milks be aware of unknown ingredients and food additives such as carageenan, a a concerning additive which has been associated with gut issues.
Better yet, make your own at home!
Soy milk used to be the popular dairy alternative but now people are starting to think otherwise. The main issue with soy is that it is not a natural food source. Almost all soy that isn’t labelled as organic will be genetically modified. Soy also contains phytoestrogens which mimics estrogen in the body. You would need to consume a large amount of soy for this to have a huge negative effect on you, but if your hormones are already out of balance – which most people’s are due to lifestyle, inactivity, diet and stress – then I would suggest you avoid soy.
My favourite milk alternative! Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamin C, E and B vitamins. It is loaded with minerals such as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. There is a compound in coconut that is antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a variety of disease causing organisms so it plays a protective role against infections and viruses. It is also great for skin! The type of fat that is found in coconut is rapidly metabolised by the liver and used for energy so it is less likely to be stored as fat. Again, like all store-bought milk you buy in cartons, check the ingredients list. Or better yet make your own, click here for my recipe of homemade coconut milk.
Check out Chloe’s blog, Chloe Moir Nutrition, where she shares nutrition tips, her view on current nutrition trends and a lot of delicious, nutritious recipes.