Cow milk is facing some stiff competition in the supermarket from common non-dairy milk. So, how do you know which ones will do your body good? “Most non-dairy milk are fortified with the same amounts of bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D you’d find in the cow’s product, so that much is a level playing field,” says Ruth Frechman, R.D., a nutritionist in Burbank, CA, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But some versions are deficient in the other important nutrient – like protein – or contain more of certain vitamins. Here are pros and cons of common non-dairy options.
Pros: Combine partially milled rice with water and you get the ultimate cholesterol-free, hypoallergenic beverage – a saviour for those avoiding soy, nuts or dairy.
Cons: Rice milk has minimal amounts of protein and fiber and lots of carbs – 23 grams in 1 cup, compared with 12 in skim milk. Some also find it too watery for coffee or cereal.
2. Soy (light)
Pros: Made from a mixture of heart-healthy soybeans and water, this non-dairy vegan pick contains almost as much as protein as cow’s milk.
Cons: Some studies have linked high soy intake to health conditions ranging from digestive ailments to reproductive disorders. Limit yourself to 1 cup a day if you’re concerned.
Pros: This low-cal drink boasts a whole milk-like texture and a big dose of antioxidant vitamin E. Its sweet, nutty flavor is an excellent complement to coffee and breakfast cereal.
Cons: Though typically enriched with calcium and vitamin D, almond milk loses fiber and protein during production.
Pros: This fresh blend coconut pulp and water is fortified with vitamin B12, which promotes a healthy nervous system. The milk’s naturally sweet taste and thick consistency make it ideal for use in baked goods and smoothies.
Cons: All 5 grams of fat in a serving are saturated (that’s a third of the daily limit for women on a 1600-calories-per-day-diet), so sip with resistance.