What Are Alt-Milks?


You’ve probably
seen a variety of milk products in your local grocery, from your regular milk
to soy, almond, and everything in between which may have pique your curiosity
already. After all, in this day and age, more and more people are starting to
read labels from the products that they are buying and are learning that less
ingredients means safer for their health. But before we learn more about these
alternatives to milk, let’s understand what makes regular milk good for you.

What is Milk?

Milk is
important to our bone health because it contains various nutrients like
calcium, vitamin A, protein, zinc, riboflavin, as well as vitamin B12.  According to the Australian Dietary
Guidelines, we need to consume 2.5 servings of dairy products like cheese,
yogurt, and milk, or their alternatives each day to absorb the nutrients that
they contain. Drinking cow’s milk is actually a good source of nutrients, but
if you are lactose intolerant, or you are not a fan of its taste, trying a
different product may help you get the nutrients that you need.

What are
Alt-Milks?

As the name
suggests, Alt-Milks, or alternative milk, are these non-dairy milk products
that those who are lactose intolerant turn to for their dairy needs. Let’s find
out what these alt-milks are:

  • Soy. This was actually the first plant-based milk that appeared in the
    market in response to the needs of those who are not fond of dairy or are
    lactose-intolerant. Soymilk is actually made from soy protein powder or ground
    soy beans and reconstituted with water, with some oil and sugar added to
    imitate the consistency of cow’s milk. What makes soy milk a good alternative
    is because it contains protein plus it is fortified with calcium too.
  • Oat. Another example of alt-milk that you can try is oat which is a type
    of nut-free drink that is quite versatile in terms of usage. It has this silky
    texture to it that causes it to foam and froth making it a nice option when
    making latte, in cereals, as well as soups even. Add some maple syrup to it for
    added sweetness.
  • Almond. This milk is considered to be an all-purpose type of alternative
    milk because it is not as rich compared to others, but it is still high in
    terms of protein content. It has a medium body with hints of sweetness to it
    making it a useful ingredient when making various dishes from mashed potatoes
    to smoothies.
  • Hazelnut. Another alternative to milk that you are sure to find in your local
    groceries is hazelnut which has the same sweetness of the nut that it is
    derived from. It blends well with chocolate and vanilla too. You can use it
    when making pastries instead of regular milk or blend with your morning drink
    for that creamy taste.
  • Cashew. Cashew milk has the same softness of the nut to it which you can
    easily distinguish even when mixed with coffee. Its mellow taste can become
    savory too especially when used in cream-based sauces for pasta and other
    dishes.
  • Hemp. It’s easy enough to distinguish this alt-milk from the rest because
    of its grassy flavor. It packs plenty of omega-3 fatty acids which you can consume
    by mixing this milk with your cereals. Hemp seeds don’t have to be soaked prior
    to blending which means that you can prepare this milk fairly quickly.
  • Rice milk. As the name suggests, rice milk is a combination of water and
    milled rice that is low in calories just like in the case of cow’s milk. It is
    usually fortified with calcium, but low in protein content. It is quite high in
    natural sugars which you should watch out.
  • Coconut milk. You can also try coconut milk in place of regular cow’s milk since
    it is low in carbohydrate and protein, but high in saturated fat. It can be
    fortified too but this depends on the brand.

Plant-based
milks that were mentioned above are not as good as soy milk, with almond milk
ranking second to it. Be that as it may, you will still need to pay attention
to the ingredients used in making these alt-milks because it is possible that
their sugar content is high. Also, it would be a good idea to look for
alt-milks that are fortified with calcium if you cannot tolerate regular cow’s
milk.

How do
Alt-Milks Stack Against Cow’s Milk?

There is no
doubt that cow’s milk has all the nutrients that you need, from protein, to
calcium, to folate, to vitamin B12 and others. Consuming 8 ounces of whole milk
will already deliver 8 grams of protein which makes up about 60% of the
recommended daily allowance in toddlers or about 40% in young children. The
quality of protein present in cow’s milk is high too since it contains
essential amino acids that are needed by the body.

Alt-milks, on
the other hand, cannot match the nutrient profile of cow’s milk even though
they are used as alternative to regular milk. Coconut milk and rice milk are
low in protein and calcium content, but the good news is that soy may be in for
the running for the next best alternative to cow’s milk because of its
nutrients.

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