The best plant-based alternatives to cows' milk.
Calcium comparison. Cow's milk has always been considered a great source of bone-building calcium; however, many of the alternatives contain little or none in their natural form, and calcium is usually added. "Check the ingredients list: If a calcium compound, such as calcium carbonate, is listed, then you know the product contains added calcium," advises Alissa Lupu, RD, a dietitian at Weill Cornell Medical Center.
In these instances, the calcium you're consuming is similar to what you would get in a supplement. It's important to be aware of your total daily calcium intake, especially in supplemental form, to avoid getting excessive amounts. (The recommended daily intake of calcium for women age 50 or under is 1,000 milligrams [mg], and 1,200 mg for women age 51 and older.) Also, your body can process only 500 mg of calcium at a time, so if you use a plant-based milk on your cereal in the morning and you also take a calcium supplement, wait until later in the day to take the supplement.
Other nutrients and ingredients. Vitamin D also is a key nutrient, since it promotes calcium absorption and has other important functions. Both animal- and plant-sourced milks are fortified with vitamin D.
Plant-based milks have an advantage in some areas: They are cholesterol-free, as are all plant foods, and they generally are low in total fat and contain little or no saturated fat. The exception is coconut milk, which contains the same amount of saturated fat as whole cows' milk. Cholesterol content in cows' milk ranges from 5g in nonfat milk to 24 g in whole milk.
Added sugar is another ingredient to consider. Unflavored cows' milk contains no added sugar, although it does contain the naturally occurring sugar lactose. Plant milks that are flavored, including many "original" varieties, often contain added sugar. To avoid added sugar, choose products with the word "unsweetened" on the label.
How they perform. Any milk alternatives can be used on top of cereal or in coffee, but you may notice a difference in taste, which may take some time to get used to. For example, almond and soy milks are very creamy and slightly nutty. Coconut and rice milk can be a bit sweeter and, while coconut milk is creamy, rice milk tends to be thinner than its animal-based counterpart. Hemp milk, while creamy, has a much more distinctive flavor.
When it comes to baking and cooking, most plant-based milks can be used as an equal substitute for milk in recipes, especially soy and almond milks. Coconut milk is a fabulous addition to curries, sauces, soups, and any other Indian or tropical recipes you enjoy. As for rice milk, Lupu advises, "When used in baking, you may need an additional binding agent like eggs, flour, or xanthan gum. In addition, products may be drier than expected, or may require a longer cooking time."
There are a number of reasons people don't consume cows' milk. Fortunately, with so many nutritionally sound alternatives on the market, it's just a matter of choosing the best substitute(s) for your needs.
COWS' MILK VS PLANT MILK: A NUTRITION COMPARISON 8-OUNCE PROTEIN TOTAL FAT SERVING SIZE CALORIES (G) (G) COW'S MILK Whole 150 8 8 1% Fat 105 8.5 2.5 Nonfat 90 8 0 RICE MILK Original Unsweetened 90 <1 2.5 Vanilla Enriched 130 1 2.5 SOY MILK Original, Light 60 6 0 Vanilla, Light 70 6 1.5 ALMOND MILK Original Unsweetened 30 1 2.5 Vanilla Unsweetened 30 1 2.5 COCONUT MILK Original 80 0 5 Vanilla 90 0 5 HEMP MILK Unsweetened Original 70 2 6 Unsweetened Vanilla 70 2 6 8-OUNCE SATURATED TOTAL CALCIUM VITAMIN SERVING SIZE FAT (G) CARBS (G) (MG) D (IU) COW'S MILK Whole 5 12 300 115-124 1% Fat 1.5 13 300 115-124 Nonfat 0 13 300 115-124 RICE MILK Original Unsweetened 0 15 300 100 Vanilla Enriched 0 26 300 100 SOY MILK Original, Light 0 5 450 120 Vanilla, Light 0 7 450 120 ALMOND MILK Original Unsweetened 0 1 450 100 Vanilla Unsweetened 0 1 450 100 COCONUT MILK Original 5 7 450 100 Vanilla 5 9 450 100 HEMP MILK Unsweetened Original 0.5 1 300 100 Unsweetened Vanilla 0.5 1 300 100
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|Title Annotation:||HEALTHY EATING|
|Publication:||Women's Nutrition Connection|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2013|
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