MAYO CLINIC, DEAR: I’ve always preferred a glass of milk with most meals, but there are now so many alternatives to cow’s milk available. Are plant-based milks like soy or almond milk healthier alternatives?
ANSWER: Cow’s milk (dairy) and other plant-based beverages, such as soy milk and almond milk, are both nutritious options. However, depending on the type of product and the brand, there are significant nutritional variances. In general, studying the nutritional facts for each beverage can help you break down the benefits. Fat content, protein, calcium, and the quantity of added sugars, if any, in each food are all crucial considerations.
Skim milk has very little fat, yet the amount of cholesterol-raising saturated fat increases as the percentage of fat increases from 1% to 2% to whole milk. This is crucial to remember because the American Heart Association suggests that saturated fat be limited to no more than 7% of total calories in your diet. Soy and almond milks have roughly 2 to 4 grams of fat per cup, but those fats are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good for you.
When it comes to protein content, dairy milk comes out on top with little over 8 grams per cup. With about 7 grams per cup, soy milk is a close second. With only 1 gram per cup, traditional almond milk falls behind. Pea protein has been added to several modern nut milk variants.
When it comes to calcium, dairy milk naturally contains roughly 300 milligrams per cup, and dairy products are typically thought to be the most easily absorbed calcium source. Many soy and almond milks are calcium fortified to match the calcium content of dairy milk. However, because soy includes a natural component (phytate) that hinders calcium absorption, your body may not absorb all of the calcium in soy milk.
Then there are the sugars that have been added. There are no additional sugars in unflavored white dairy milk, unsweetened soy, or almond milk. The taste of unsweetened soy or almond milk, on the other hand, may be a concern for some. A sweetened or flavored beverage may contain 4 to more than 20 grams of added sugars. The easiest approach to choose a flavor you like with little added sugars is to look at the Nutrition Facts label. Remember that sugar is indicated on the label of unflavored white dairy milk, but it’s lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar.
In conclusion, dairy milk is difficult to beat for balanced nutrition, with nonfat skim milk being the best option for most individuals. However, not everyone can take dairy milk, and some people may opt to forego animal products altogether or simply want to experiment. Unsweetened soy milk is the closest nutritional equivalent, plus it contains a few grams of beneficial fats that skim milk lacks. While almond milk is not unhealthy, it is less nutrition rich, particularly in terms of protein content. Check the Nutrition Facts labels on soy or almond milk for appropriate calcium and minimal added sugars. (Reprinted with permission from the Mayo Clinic Health Letter) Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, Endocrinology/Nutrition
- Published 2/18/19 in Infectious Diseases A-Z: Raw milk, cheese linked to brucellosis
- How to Get Calcium Without Dairy Products (Mayo Clinic Minute) published on September 19, 2018
Which milk has the most protein?
Dry milk has the largest protein level 26.32g protein per 100g serving for whole dry milk and 36.16g protein per 100g serving for nonfat dry milk but when you rehydrate the concentrated dry milk with water, the protein amount drops.
It is nutritious
Although almond milk does not compare to cow’s milk in terms of nutrition, enhanced products get close.
They usually contain extra vitamin D, calcium, and protein, making them nutritionally comparable to ordinary milk.
Almond milk, on the other hand, is naturally high in various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.
The table below compares the amounts of a few nutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in a cup of enriched commercial almond milk versus a cup of low-fat cow’s milk, as well as some daily values (DV) (2, 3).
Is almond milk more protein-dense than cow milk?
The fat and salt content are nearly comparable, and while cow’s milk contains somewhat more protein, it’s not enough to make a significant difference in your diet. Almond milk is somewhat healthier than cow’s milk and is good for lactose-intolerant persons. It also contains vitamin D, which cow’s milk does not.
Is almond milk a high-protein beverage?
Almond milk is very low in calories when compared to cow’s milk and other plant-based beverages, with only 39 calories per cup (240 ml). It also has a variety of nutrients.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radical damage, and almond milk is a great natural supply of it (6).
Calcium and vitamin D, which are crucial elements for bone health, are supplemented in some kinds. These nutrients are not abundant in homemade versions (7, 8).
Finally, almond milk is poor in protein, with only 1 gram per cup (240 ml) (5).
Vitamin E, a disease-fighting antioxidant, is abundant in almond milk. It’s typically supplemented with calcium and vitamin D during processing. It is, however, a poor source of protein.
What is the healthiest milk?
Hemp milk is prepared from crushed, soaked hemp seeds that are free of the psychotropic ingredient found in Cannabis sativa plants.
Protein and omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats are abundant in the seeds. As a result, hemp milk has a somewhat higher concentration of these nutrients than other plant milks.
Although hemp milk is almost carb-free, some brands include sweets, which raise the carb count. Make sure to read the ingredient label and get hemp or any other plant milk that hasn’t been sweetened.
On the ingredient label, sugar may be described as brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, or cane sugar.
The seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant are used to make hemp milk. While the drink isn’t psychotropic, it does include more healthful fats and protein than other plant milks.
Is almond milk more harmful than dairy milk?
Milk is a basic food in many cultures throughout the world. However, dairy can significantly add to our food’s greenhouse gas emissions. It accounts for just over a quarter of the carbon footprint in normal EU diets, and up to one-third in some cases. 1
As people become more aware of this, they are turning to plant-based alternatives. Non-dairy milks are currently consumed by one-quarter of adults in the United Kingdom, according to polls (although not always exclusively). It’s much more popular among younger people, with one-third of 16 to 23-year-olds choosing it. 2
Soy, oat, almond, rice, and coconut milk are among the ‘plant-based’ milk replacements now available. This begs two questions: are plant-based milks truly better for the environment, and which is the best?
We compare milks on a number of environmental criteria in this graph, including land use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and eutrophication, or the pollution of ecosystems with excess nutrients. These are measured in milliliters of milk. 3 I discuss some of the differences in nutritional content of different milks at the end of this post, which are crucial to consider in particular groups.
Across all criteria, cow’s milk has a significantly bigger impact than plant-based alternatives. It produces three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, consumes ten times the amount of land, utilizes two to twenty times the amount of freshwater, and results in significantly greater levels of eutrophication.
Switching to plant-based alternatives is a fantastic option if you want to lessen your diet’s environmental impact.
Which vegan milk is the best? It all depends on the impact we’re most concerned with. Almond milk emits less greenhouse gases and takes up less land than soy milk, but it requires more water and contributes to eutrophication.
Although all of the options have a smaller environmental impact than dairy, there is no obvious winner across the board.
Which milk is the most effective for weight loss?
For most people, cow’s milk is the ideal option because it provides a good source of protein and calcium.
Switch to reduced-fat or skim milk if you’re attempting to lose weight.
Lactose intolerant people should choose lactose-free milk.
Soy milk is recommended for those who have a cow’s milk protein allergy or who eat a vegan or plant-based diet because it contains the majority of the nutrients found in cow’s milk.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential in all types of milk, so pick calcium- and vitamin D-fortified versions whenever possible.
Why Lite n’ Easy?
Ashleigh Jones is a Registered Dietitian with over 10 years of experience in hospitals, corporate health, private practice, and the food sector. She is a published researcher who has worked in a variety of fields, including genetics, multiple sclerosis, and sports nutrition. Ashleigh is an expert in endocrine problems, having a special focus in weight loss, pituitary and thyroid disorders, and diabetes management. Ashleigh is passionate about encouraging healthy habits, particularly among busy people, and she provides simple and long-term nutrition solutions.
Which non-dairy milk contains the highest amount of protein?
Soy milk is the most frequent plant-based alternative to cow’s milk, and it was the first to hit the market in the United States.
People with lactose sensitivity should drink fortified soy beverages instead of cow’s milk, according to the 20152020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
When comparing soy milk to almond, hemp, and oat milk, this milk substitute has the highest protein content per serving.
Calcium and vitamin D are frequently added to soy milk, as they are to many other plant-based milk variants.
Phytate and oxalate, two chemicals that can prevent calcium absorption, are abundant in plant-based milk variants. Experiments on soy milk demonstrate that, despite the presence of these chemicals, calcium absorption was similar to that of cow’s milk if the producers fortified it with calcium carbonate, according to a review published in the journal Nutrients in 2019.
Cow’s milk has more of the important amino acids methionine, valine, leucine, and lysine than soy milk, despite the fact that soy milk has more protein than other plant-based milk products.
Essential amino acids are not produced by the body, thus people must consume enough of them through their diet.
People drink soy milk because it contains isoflavones, which have anticancer properties, according to studies.
Some people are put off by the taste of soy milk. Manufacturers occasionally add other flavors and sweets to hide the bean-like flavor of this drink. These additions should be avoided by people who want to limit their sugar intake.
Doctors may also advise that children under the age of three who have a cow milk protein allergy avoid drinking soy milk because they may have a soy allergy.
When cultivating soybeans, farmers utilize a range of pesticides, therefore those who want to avoid pesticides should choose for organic brands.
What does almond milk have that milk doesn’t?
Cow’s milk’s key health benefit is that it provides complete protein, as it is an animal product, as well as a variety of important nutrients like B-vitamins. While almond milk has a higher calcium content, dairy milk is still a good source.