Last week we started to delve into the mysterious world of milk and milk alternatives. Addressing the arising question of whether one should be jumping on the nondairy milk health bandwagon.
Still unsure if you’re being swept up in the latest health fad or making the most nutritious decision?
This week we are looking into each of the milk alternatives in a little more detail.
Soymilk is one of the most popular and best selling milk alternatives. Made from pressing ground, cooked soybeans. This milk alternative has been thoroughly scrutinized for its health benefits and detriments.
The most noteworthy health concern centres on the plants estrogens levels found in soybeans, called isoflavones. It has been highlighted in recent years that isoflavones have the ability to interact and bind to the estrogen receptor in humans.
While those who have experienced breast cancer may be hesitant to use soymilk, the latest evidence has suggested that moderate consumption of soy and soy products is safe for breast cancer survivors and the general population. It is important to note however this refers to soy foods and not supplements, as it is recommended that cancer survivors avoid high doses of soy and soy isoflavones that are provided by supplements.
Out of the milk alternatives soymilk is the cream of the crop. Providing comparable amounts of complete protein with essential amino acids to dairy milk, it is a great option for those following a vegan diet or are lactose intolerant.
Soymilk isn’t naturally high in calcium, so when choosing from all the different brands make sure you find one that has been fortified. It is also important to check the nutrient information panel, as some companies load up their products with added sugar.
Almond milk popularity is growing steadily and is becoming a close contender behind soymilk as the alternative milk of choice. Generally speaking it is made from soaking almonds in water, blending and then removing any solid particles.
The amount of actual almonds in almond milk is variable between brands, with some only containing 2% of actual almonds per container. It is best to always check the ingredient list, and make sure you are getting a wholesome product.
When looking at the nutritional quality of almond milk, it is a great alternative for those calorie and fat conscious, however it doesn’t provide much more. Low in saturated fat, almond milk instead contains small amounts of heart healthy mono and poly-unsaturated fats, although small being the key word here.
As well as being low in saturated fat and calories, almond milk lacks significantly on the protein front. So when it comes down to it, you need to ask yourself why you are drinking almond milk. If its for the taste, make sure you chose one that is fortified with calcium. If you are concerned about your protein intake, perhaps you might want to rethink your choice, as one would have to drink 8 glasses of almond milk to get the equivalent amount of protein from one glass of dairy milk.
Rice milk is the least allergenic out of all the milks, making it a great alternative for individuals who are allergic to lactose or have a nut or soy allergies.
Nutritionally wise though, rice milk would be the poorest, lagging behind in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A, phosphorous and potassium. Rice milk is made through the processing and milling of rice with water, making its carbohydrate content very high, while being very low in protein. When it comes to rice milk the devil is in the detail – look out for the total sugar content and additives to the products, and check if it has been fortified with essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Coconut products are the new “trend” setting health item this year, with coconut milk no exception. Made from the liquid expressed from coconut meat, nutritionally wise this milk alternative only has low calories to ride on. With approximately 4g saturated fat per glass, one-third the amount of calcium found in dairy and soymilk, and zero protein it really doesn’t have much more to offer besides its social status.
SO WHAT’S THE FINAL VERDICT?
When push comes to shove; if you enjoy the taste and can tolerate the lactose choose skim cow’s milk. If you prefer a non-cows’ milk, make sure it is fortified with adequate calcium. Whatever your preference, make sure you’re getting enough.
There is no need to be loyal to your milk. If you enjoy a soy coffee and skim on your cereal why not? Consuming a variety of milk and milk alternative products throughout the day helps to ensure that you’re getting a well-rounded mix of nutrients.
If you have any further questions about your individual calcium, protein or nutrient requirements, book in a consultation.