6 Alternatives to Cow's Milk
Many people are choosing to cut cow's milk from their diet due to lactose intolerance, a vegan diet, or taste. While cow's milk is a good source of protein and calcium known for its bone-building benefits, there are a variety of healthy alternatives that offer similar benefits. Try the cow's milk alternatives below to find one that works for you.
1. Soy Milk
Made by soaking, grinding, and straining soybeans, this popular dairy-free alternative has a sweet, creamy nut flavor. A complete protein, soy milk offers all of the essential amino acids your body needs. It also has less calories and half the fat of cow's milk. Soy milk is a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, and contains antioxidants and phytochemicals such as isoflavones, saponins, and phytic acid. Drinking soy milk has been linked to a healthy heart, cholesterol reduction, and increased immunity.
2. Almond Milk
One of the most popular cow's milk alternatives, almond milk is a blend of ground almonds and water combined with a touch of sugar and salt for added flavor. This nutty milk has fewer calories, 63 percent less fat (only 3 g per cup), and more calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin B12 than cow's milk. Almond milk also has healthy amounts of riboflavin and Vitamin D. The only downside is that almond milk only has 1 g of protein per cup compared to 8 g per cup in cow's milk. If you choose almond milk, be sure to get your protein from another source.
3. Goat's Milk
Goat's milk is readily available in other parts of the world, but is limited to specialty supermarkets and gourmet grocers in the United States. Although goat's milk is lower in lactose and generally better tolerated than cow's milk, it's not a lactose-free product and may be problematic for people with severe lactose intolerance. Similar to cow's milk, goat's milk has a creamy, sweet taste with salty undertones. Goat's milk has more fat, saturated fat, calories, protein, and phosphorous than other cow's milk alternatives, and it has a nutrition profile closer to whole milk.
4. Hemp Milk
Distinctively nutty in flavor and slightly gritty in texture, hemp milk is made by soaking and grinding hemp seeds and blending them with water. Unsweetened hemp has less calories than cow's milk, but it's one of the fattier alternatives with 6 g of fat per cup. Fortified hemp milk provides more vitamin B12 and magnesium and similar amounts of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and phosphorous to cow's milk. Similar to almond milk, hemp milk falls short on protein with only 2-4 g per cup, depending on the brand.
5. Rice Milk
Rice milk is a combination of brown rice, water, oil, salt, and sweetener, and it's thinner than other cow's milk alternatives, making it less ideal for cooking. This light, sweet milk provides roughly the same amount of calories, calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous as cows’ milk. It's also lower in fat than other cow's milk alternatives. As a grain-based product, a single cup of rice milk can provide up to two servings of carbs and up to 4 teaspoons of sugar. Like hemp and almond milk, rice milk is light on the protein, with only 1 g per cup.
6. Oat Milk
The newest cow's milk alternative to hit the market, oat milk is a blend of cooked oats, water, and a touch of salt and sweetener. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Fortified oat milk has a nutrient profile almost identical to rice milk, but with slightly more protein. It also has more carbs and sugar than soy, almond, hemp, and goat's milk, and more protein It's also a great alternative to milk for people suffering from lactose intolerance.
What's your favorite type of milk? Let us know in the comments.
About The Author
Edwina Clark – Edwina Clark is a nutritionist who works with employees as part of the Core Performance corporate wellness program.