Health­i­est non-dairy al­ter­na­tives to cow’s milk

What­ever non-dairy milk you choose, use one that’s unsweet­ened, free of ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, and has some pro­tein or healthy fat.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Diet -

WHETHER due to lac­tose in­tol­er­ance or pref­er­ence, more and more peo­ple are con­sid­er­ing nondairy milk sub­sti­tutes. Given the num­ber of op­tions on the shelves, it can be dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine the health­i­est op­tion. Is­abel Smith, a celebrity di­eti­tian from New York City, rec­om­mended a sim­ple rule to fol­low when shop­ping. “What­ever non-dairy milk you choose, use one that’s unsweet­ened, free of ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, and has some pro­tein or healthy fat,” she said. Here is a break­down of four al­ter­na­tives that can pro­vide the nu­tri­tional boost you need, in­clud­ing which ones you should avoid if you have cer­tain health con­di­tions:

Soy milk

When com­par­ing all the al­ter­na­tives, a 2017 study found soy milk to re­sem­ble the nu­tri­tional pro­file of dairy the most. It con­tains just as much pro­tein as cow’s milk in ad­di­tion to be­ing a good source of vi­ta­min A, vi­ta­min B-12, potas­sium, etc.

There has been some de­bate in the med­i­cal com­mu­nity on whether soy con­sump­tion should be lim­ited in the case of hy­pothy­roidism. How­ever, there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest soy should be com­pletely avoided. Dr Todd B. Nip­poldt from the Mayo Clinic rec­om­mended wait­ing for around four hours af­ter tak­ing thy­roid med­i­ca­tion to con­sume any prod­ucts that con­tain soy.

Rice milk

Un­like soy, rice milk is the least likely of all al­ter­na­tives to cause al­ler­gies but is low in pro­tein con­tent. Con­tain­ing around 120 calo­ries per cup, it is best con­sumed when for­ti­fied with cal­cium, vi­ta­min A, and vi­ta­min D.

Since it is pro­duced by blend­ing milled rice and water, the car­bo­hy­drates are con­verted to sugar in the process. While the pro­duced sweet­ness can be great for taste, this as­pect makes rice milk a bad op­tion for di­a­betes pa­tients. Though it tastes a bit wa­tery, peo­ple who pre­fer the taste of reg­u­lar dairy milk over nutty al­ter­na­tives may be more likely to en­joy rice milk.

Hemp milk

Hemp milk, which is ob­tained from crush­ing and soak­ing hemp seeds in water, is a good choice for those look­ing to strengthen their bones and lower the risk of os­teo­poro­sis. “One 8-ounce glass of hemp milk gives you a whop­ping 45 per cent of your rec­om­mended daily amount of cal­cium,” said clin­i­cal nu­tri­tion­ist David Fried­man.

The pres­ence of mag­ne­sium (which helps reg­u­late the heart rhythm) and omega-3 fatty acids (which is ben­e­fi­cial for choles­terol lev­els) also makes it a heart-healthy al­ter­na­tive.

Cashew milk

Ash­ley Pet­tit, a fit­ness chef, noted that cashew milk had a very sim­i­lar nu­tri­tion pro­file to al­mond milk. “Unsweet­ened cashew milk has an in­cred­i­bly low-calo­rie pro­file, but it’s only five calo­ries less than al­mond milk,” she said. It is es­ti­mated to con­tain four grams of pro­tein per serv­ing and eight per cent of the daily value for iron.

While it may be very easy to make your­self, nu­tri­tion­ists sug­gest that store-bought cashew milk may con­tain much lesser fat than home-made cashew milk. “When you’re buy­ing any milk at a store, it’s pro­cessed more than you have the abil­ity to process at home, and those pro­cesses cut out some of the fat,” Pet­tit added.

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