Problems with lactose? Keen to try coconut milk? There’s a vast array of milk alternatives on the shelves now, so HFG’s dietitian Brooke Longfield pours over which is best for you.
Gone are the days when choosing your milk was as simple as deciding between full fat or skim. These days, there’s an extensive range of non-dairy milk alternatives to tempt your taste buds.
If you’ve taken dairy off the menu, you may need to consider the rest of your diet to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the important nutrients that cow’s milk offers. (It’s one of nature’s best sources of calcium, after all).
The right milk alternative for you depends on your reason for not drinking cow’s milk in the first place. So, we’ve selected the best brand for every need.
Have you got tummy trouble?
If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, then cutting back on lactose (the natural sugar in milk) may reduce bloating and discomfort. Fortunately, milk is available in lactose-free and low-lactose variants. As these are made from cow’s milk, you’ll still get plenty of protein and calcium, but the lactose has been broken down, making it easy to digest.
Don’t like the taste?
Can’t stand the taste of milk, but love cheese and yoghurt? While cheese and yoghurt will provide you with protein and calcium, you might like to try a nut milk (which tastes different to cow’s milk) such as almond milk, or an almond and coconut milk blend. Keep in mind some brands have sugar added, so try choosing unsweetened where possible.
Are you vegan?
Soy milk has the closest nutrient profile to cow’s milk of all the dairy alternatives. Unlike rice, almond and oat milks, soy milk is high in protein so it’s ideal for vegetarians and vegans who don’t get protein from meat.
Brands that are calcium-fortified, with at least 120mg calcium per 100g are best. This ensures that one glass delivers a third of your daily calcium requirements for strong bones.
Trying to lose weight?
Milk has long been blamed for weight gain, but research shows that people who include dairy in their diet lose more weight and have more lean muscle than those who skip it. Rice, almond and oat milks are lower in kilojoules than cow’s milk, but they lack protein, which keeps us full.
Three things to look for when buying milk
Unsweetened: Check the ingredients list for one with no added sugar.
Calciuim fortified: Pick one with more than 120mg calcium per 100ml.
High protein: Aim for a minimum of 3g protein per 100ml.
Did you know? Some almond milks have just five almonds per glass and a heap of sugar, so it pays to check the pack.