Nutrition

Soy? Almond? Rice? What you need to know about dairy-free drinks

What you need to know about dairy-free drinks

Dairy-free drinks. Image by: Getty Images: AlexPro9500 Author: Sarah Dziedzic

Nutrition

Soy? Almond? Rice? What you need to know about dairy-free drinks

We needed help demystifying the seemingly endless list of milk alternatives, so we went to the experts for real talk on dairy-free drinks.

Whether you're lactose intolerant, vegan, or just like the taste, there are plenty of reasons to experiment with adding milk alternatives to your diet. But with more varieties than ever before, how do you know which option is best for you? We asked two registered dietitians, Carol Harrison and Crystal MacGregor, for the skinny on dairy-free drinks.

Which beverage is closest to cow’s milk in terms of nutritional profile?

Crystal MacGregor: Soy is the closest to dairy in protein per serving at 7 grams of protein per cup. When possible, choose organic versions, as many conventional soy milks can come from genetically modified soybeans, which may contain higher levels of pesticides and fertilizers.

Carol Harrison: The only beverages I consider nutritional substitutes for cow's milk are goat’s milk fortified with vitamin D and soy beverages fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

What are some things a person should consider when choosing a dairy-free beverage?

CM: If choosing a non-dairy alternative for a source of protein it is important to note that not all are created equal—most nut milks such as almond, coconut and cashew milk contain less than 1 g of protein per cup.

CH: Aim for 30 per cent daily value calcium and 45 per cent daily value vitamin D. Also choose unsweetened options to curb unwanted added sugars.

Why does cow's milk get a bad rap?

CH: Some people are worried about hormones or antibiotics in milk. But the truth is, growth hormones are not approved for use in dairy cattle in Canada. As well, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports compliance for veterinary product residues in milk is greater than 99 per cent.

CM: Cow’s milk is a nutritious and safe choice. Non-dairy beverages are actually not suitable for children under the age of two because they do not contain enough calories, protein and fat to support children’s needs.

Want to know more about your milk alternative options? Check out our slideshow of popular dairy-free drinks, including almond, rice and soy milk, to find out which one packs in the protein, which clocks in with the least calories, and most importantly, which one works best in your morning coffee.

Slideshow

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Pros and cons of dairy-free drinks

Pros and cons of almond milk

Pros: Almonds naturally contain vitamin E and minerals such as magnesium. It contains no saturated fats and is typically low in calories.

Cons: Almond milk is low in protein. Look for ones that do not have added oils.

Image by: Getty Images By: Canadian Living

Pros and cons of dairy-free drinks

Pros and cons of Cashew milk

Pros: Cashew milk is creamy, sweet and less nutty tasting than other nut milks. It makes a great addition to oatmeal and savoury dishes like curry.

Cons: Cashew milk is very low in protein and is not suitable for those with a tree nut allergy.

Image by: Photography by ŠiStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs By: Canadian Living

Pros and cons of dairy-free drinks

Pros and cons of rice milk

Pros: Great for those with, nut soy, and dairy allergies.

Cons: They are often higher in sugars, and added oils. Look for whole brown rice in the ingredients list.

Image by: Photography by Rheanna Kish By: Canadian Living

Pros and cons of dairy-free drinks

Pros and cons of coconut milk

Pros: Contains healthy natural saturated fats, and is lower in carbohydrates and calories than cow's milk and other plant-based beverages.

Cons: Higher in fat than other nut milks.

Image by: Getty Images: Henrik Sorensen By: Canadian Living

Pros and cons of dairy-free drinks

Pros and cons of hemp milk

Pros: A good source of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The watery consistency makes it a smooth addition for coffee and shakes.

Cons: Low in protein like other nut and seed milks and many are yet to be fortified with calcium or vitamin D.

Image by: Getty Images: marekuliasz By: Canadian Living

 

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Nutrition

Soy? Almond? Rice? What you need to know about dairy-free drinks

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