If you are confused about dairy-free alternatives at your coffee shop, you are not alone. With so many options, it is hard to understand what type is best for you. In this article, we will find out the different kinds of milk, their pros and cons, and tips to help you choose better!
Let’s get started.
Milk is a whole food that provides many essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. It is cheap and easy to find, but many people are sensitive to milk sugar, called lactose. However, not all dairy milk is the same; goat and sheep milk contains lower lactose levels; they are usually easier to digest. Therefore, if possible, I will always recommend and choose natural milk. Still, between 1% – 95% of people don’t produce the enzyme lactase essential to the complete digestion of whole milk (Raw milk contains lactase, but pasteurisation, however, kills it). As a result, the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking food containing lactose.
Common signs and symptoms include:
Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
Dairy products are not essential for the human diet; it is a bit weird when you think about it since animal milk is made for baby cows, not for humans. Still, they have some beneficial nutrients; we all love ice cream and cheese from time to time.
Plant-based milk is usually more expensive than cow’s milk, and just because it is dairy-free does not mean it is better or healthier. Many contain high amounts of sugar, vegetable oils, gums and thickeners. One of these thickeners is carrageenan, derived from seaweed, associated with ulcers, leaky gut, inflammation and even autoimmune disease. Even the organic, unsweetened versions can contain additives to make nut and rice water look and taste like cow’s milk.
If you have no issues digesting milk, there is no reason to avoid cow’s milk, but it is crucial to choose always organic because non-organic dairy is full of hormones and antibiotics. And if you have problems with milk products, then the best for you will be a dairy-free alternative.
Let’s take a look at some of the options:
Oat is perhaps the most famous milk alternative in coffee shops out there. Oats have high fibre and taste relatively good on coffee, smoothies, soups and sauces. It is usually not so expensive and easy to find. Unfortunately, most oat milk on the market and in coffee shops is pure vegetable oil or sugar. Be aware that if you drink milk-based coffee daily outside your home, you get large amounts of sugar and inflammatory oils.
Tip: If you have gluten intolerance or, for any reason, you want to reduce gluten from your diet, be sure that the milk is labelled gluten-free.
Coconut milk is high in fat, has a consistency similar to cow’s milk and is excellent for soups, creams and lattes. Usually, it has no sugar added, but most brands have other additives, such as guar gum; Even though there’s no evidence that guar gum may cause serious harm, some people get digestive problems. Also, coconut milk usually comes in cans containing BPA, an industrial chemical that produces many health problems like liver, thyroid, and immune function.
Tip: Opt for BPA-free cans or carton packaging and read the labels carefully to ensure that it is coconut milk and not pure additives with water that you are paying for.
Hemp milk is made by blending water with the hemp plant and cannabis Sativa, but hemp milk won’t make you high because they only contain 0.3% of THC. Also, unlike many plant-based options, it contains complete proteins, making it ideal for a postworkout drink. Unfortunately, it is expensive, and as with the other alternatives, most brands have sugar and other additives.
Tip: Read the label and know that hemp milk may be the most expensive and difficult to find.
Almond milk tastes very good and has a similar consistency to cow’s milk. It is excellent for smoothies, pancakes and cookies. Almond milk is low in calories but also in protein and nutrients. Unfortunately, most of the brands contain only 2% almonds; the rest is water, sugar or oil; To add some nutritional value, almond milk is usually fortified with vitamins and minerals, so it ends up paying for fortifying water.
Tip: If you have nut allergies, this is not a good option, so please avoid all nut milk and opt for other options, such as rice milk.
Rice milk is deficient in fat and proteins but rich in carbohydrates. It is a good option for nut allergies since it is the least allergenic of all options. It is easy to find; however, rice milk also can contain sugar, vegetable oils and thickeners. When looking to benefit from micronutrients in rice milk, checking the nutrition facts label when choosing which brand to buy is essential. Some, but not all, products are enriched. That means that they have had various nutrients added during processing.
Tip: If you have diabetes, this is not for you since it is high in carbohydrates.
Soy is perhaps the most popular of all plant-based milk. This is because it contains complete proteins, calcium, and potassium, which are usually inexpensive and easy to find. In addition, people believe soy is healthy because Asians consume soy regularly, and they are one of the heathers populations on the planet. Still, the soy traditionally consumed by Asian people differs from the soy we consume today. Unfortunately, most soy products we see today are GMO (genetic engineering) -derived, which could cause many health issues.
But besides GMOs, there are other dangers to consider, such as the herbicide glyphosate in GMO foods, which has many devastating biological effects and is associated with autism and dementia. Also, soy contains estrogen-like substances that can cause hormonal dysfunction and men and woman. Many studies show that soy can promote cancer, but too many others can prevent it, and you can find some at the article’s end.
Tip: For those on thyroid medications for hypothyroidism, managing soy intake may be helpful. For the rest, drinking soy milk sometimes may not be a problem. I think the best soy you can consume is organic soy that has been fermented, such as thempe, miso or natto.
For protein, soy or hemp milk is the best option; soy is the best option for calcium and potassium. If you have any nut allergies, rice milk is your best option. It is always balance; nobody will die from drinking coffee with sugar or using coconut milk on a can with BPA. Life is not black or white; what you do most of the time matters!
Studies on soy: