Simply put, a milk alternative is a non-dairy substitute to cow’s milk and other dairy-based milk products. Most milk alternatives contain milk powder (about 30 to 80%), palm oil, coconut oil, and similar vegetable extracts, among others. These dairy substitutes are low in saturated fat, do not contain animal products, and are cholesterol-free.
Some of the most popular milk alternatives are:
Almond Milk. This milk alternative is made from ground almonds and water. Some brands use a sweetener. It is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants. It also does not contain saturated fat. Almond milk looks a bit like dairy milk because of its creamy texture. However, it does not have the elements that make dairy milk a big no-no for lactose intolerant people.
The only downsides to almond milk are that it does not have enough protein (especially when compared to dairy milk). The fortified version of almond milk is beneficial because they contain essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids.
Soy Milk. Soy milk is another popular milk alternative. It is made from soybean extracts. There are many varieties of this milk alternative: unsweetened, sweetened, and flavored (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are the most common ones).
This milk alternative has significant amounts of calcium, riboflavin, vitamins A and D, and protein. Most soy milk brands are enriched with isoflavones, which are essential for good heart health.
Some people, however, may have allergic reactions to soy milk.
Rice Milk. Rice milk comes from cooked rice mixed or blended with water and fortified with enzymes that convert starches to sugars. This milk alternative has a smooth texture; as such, it is often used for coffee and desserts.
This can be the best milk alternative because it is ideal for people that may have dairy, soy, or nut allergy. It has vitamin D and calcium.
The only con to rice milk is the fact that it has considerable amounts of carbohydrates.
Cashew Milk. Cashew milk is also a popular milk alternative, but it only came into the limelight recently. Its texture closely matches that of cow’s milk. Its taste, however, is a bit like that of almond milk is, only a bit creamier. You can also taste the nutty flavor of this milk alternative.
This best milk alternative is formulated with vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.
The downside to drinking cashew milk is it does not have enough calories.
Coconut Milk. Another possible best milk alternative is coconut milk, which is made by mixing coconut liquid squeezed from grated coconut flesh and filtered water. It can taste a bit like low-fat dairy milk. It is safe for everyone, though, and has fewer grams of fat and caloric content.
Coconut milk is also good for better metabolism as it has medium-chain-fatty-acids or MCFAs.
Its downside is its low protein content which makes it less filling than other dairy alternatives.
Hemp Milk. This popular milk alternative is a result of hemp seeds mixed with water, plus some sweeteners. It has a flavor that is best described as earthy-nutty, so it might take some time before you get used to it. This is a viable alternative for people who are allergic to soy, gluten, and nuts.
No, hemp milk will not get you high or make you fail a drug test. It does not have THC, the active ingredient found in marijuana.
Hemp milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has iron. Also, it is not genetically modified like soy milk.
The only con to hemp milk is its low protein content. There are also hemp milk products with high sugar content.
When choosing the best milk alternative, make sure to look for the following essential nutrients: calcium; protein; vitamins A, D, and E; and minerals.