A lot of people avoid cow’s milk and other dairy products because of food allergies, dietary restrictions, and personal preferences. But, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy eating baked goods and drinking a creamy cup coffee or tea. Various dairy-free substitutes for milk are now available. The best part is that these plant-based products can also provide health benefits.
1. SOY MILK
Today, soy milk is one of the most popular dairy alternatives sold on the market. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that goes well with coffee, savory dishes, and baked goods.
PROS: Most people choose this plant-based milk because of its antioxidant and protein contents. In fact, a cup of soy milk has about eight grams of complete protein. Meaning, this beverage has all the essential amino acids needed by your body. Moreover, most soy milk products have added vitamins and calcium, making these beverages a good source of calcium for vegans.
CONS: Soy milk can offer nutrients comparable to cow’s milk. However, this product is not for people with soy allergen. Furthermore, most soybeans produced nowadays are genetically modified organisms (GMO). For this reason, you have to meticulously check the product’s label and opt for organic and non-GMO soybeans.
2. ALMOND MILK
Almond milk is another popular product in this list of non-dairy substitutes for milk. For its flavor, this beverage offers a mild nutty and sweet taste – perfect for coffee, tea, and smoothies. You can also use this beverage to make your favorite dessert recipes and baked goods.
PROS: Compared to other plant-based milk products, almond milk has the highest amount of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that can stop disease-causing free radicals. Furthermore, this lactose-free beverage is also low in calories, which is beneficial for people trying to shed some extra pounds.
CONS: Although almonds are good sources of proteins, almond milk is low in protein. The main reason is that most products only contain 2% of this type of nut. Nonetheless, there are brands that have 7 to 15% almond contents. So, you have to check the product’s label and choose brands with higher protein contents and added nutrients. Additionally, to grow almonds take gallons and gallons of water, making it the least environmentally-friendly option of the bunch. When available, opt for other milks like soy or oat to cut down on water use in the U.S.
3. HEMP MILK
Although produced from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp milk does not provide mind-altering effects. One reason is that hemp seeds have low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compared to marijuana. Nonetheless, this dairy alternative contains a substance that promotes a healthy brain.
PROS: Next to soy milk, hemp milk is another plant-based beverage with adequate protein contents, which is two to three grams per cup. Another vital nutrient present in this product is omega-3 fatty acids, an oily substance that promotes a healthy heart and brain. Lastly, this type of milk is beneficial for those with soy and nut allergy.
CONS: Compared to the other non-dairy substitutes for milk in this list, hemp milk is a bit pricey and not widely accessible. This beverage also a nutty flavor that you may or may not favor.
4. OAT MILK
Because of its health benefits, oatmeal is among the best breakfast foods you can eat. However, some people don’t have the time to cook and eat this nourishing product early in the morning. The good news is, you can now reap some of the healing properties of this healthful grain by drinking oat milk.
PROS: One of the greatest advantages of drinking oat milk is improving your heart’s health. This therapeutic effect is due to beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that can bind to low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and lower your risk of developing heart diseases.
CONS: Unfortunately, oat milk is also low in proteins and people with gluten intolerance should avoid this product. Lastly, some oat milk brands have high sugar contents so you have to pick a product made with organic oats and with less sugar.
5. COCONUT MILK
Nowadays, various coconut products are available in our grocery stores and in our local coffee shops. Thus, it is not surprising that the last in this list of non-dairy substitutes for milk is made from this tropical fruit. Basically, there are two types of coconut milk. The canned variety is ideal for cooking and baking. The product you can drink or add to your coffee and smoothies is the diluted version sold in a milk carton.
PROS: Most people with food allergies (soy, nut, and gluten) can benefit from coconut milk. This plant-based product can also provide some nutrients such potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
CONS: Unfortunately, coconut milk is low in proteins and incredibly high in fats. Thus, this flavorful beverage is not ideal for those who want to build muscle and lose weight.