Mooo-ve Over Milk? A Review of Dairy Milks & Non-Dairy Alternatives

"Image courtesy of [Naypong] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of [Naypong] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

A question that I get on a regular basis revolves around the evolution of the ‘milk’ industry over the past few years, and what the best milk and alternative options are for optimal health.

Upon entering the milk-section of the grocery store, we are now faced with a variety of choices including: cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk, and more. You name it, there’s milk or “mylk” (AKA non-dairy milk) associated with it. Faced with all of these options, it’s no wonder that there is confusion with regards to which one to purchase, and which (if any) to avoid.

Some of the questions that I often hear include; Is one kind better than the other? Will I still get enough calcium by eliminating cow’s milk? Do all milks have similar nutrient profiles?

Before we get into specifics, it’s important to realize that most of the options, whether dairy or non-dairy based, have beneficial properties and are nutritious in moderate amounts, provided that they are free from added artificial ingredients. I suggest choosing organic options when possible, and also considering your enjoyment for the taste of the particular milk.

Cow’s Milk (dairy)

Many people are choosing to reduce and/or eliminate their consumption of dairy products, including cow’s milk, due to the fact that they can be inflammatory in the body and may cause a range of potential reactions. However, whole milk is a nutritious option being that it’s full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. It’s best to do a challenge to see whether or not you are sensitive to dairy by doing an elimination diet followed by re-introduction of cow’s milk products. Upon eliminating milk and other dairy products, many of my patients will report less digestive upset, clearer skin, weight loss, and less severe allergies.

If you’re interested in trying an elimination diet, you can book an appointment with me by clicking the following link



Goat’s Milk (dairy)



With a similar nutrient profile to cow’s milk, goat’s milk can be a great alternative for those looking to switch up their milk routine. People who are either sensitive or allergic to cow’s milk are often able to tolerate goat’s milk with no adverse effects, due to the fact that it contains a lesser amount of lactose. Goat’s milk is also more easily digested in the body, making it a viable alternative. This is also the case with goat milk yogurt and goat cheese.



Almond Milk (non-dairy)



All the rage these days, unsweetened and naturally flavoured almond milks are a great alternative for people who are avoiding dairy. Made by blending soaked almonds with filtered water, this milk is a healthy and delicious addition to morning oatmeal and smoothies, as the base of a latte, or in homemade soups. In its natural form, almond milk generally contains about 30 calories per 1 cup serving, as well as approximately 30% of your recommended daily intake of calcium. Though making your own almond milk is preferable (I have included a recipe at the bottom of this post), purchasing a brand that adds no sugar or artificial flavorings is a great alternative.

Coconut Milk (non-dairy)



The naturally sweet flavour of coconut milk makes it an enjoyable beverage on its own, or mixed into recipes. Coconut milk is made by pureeing the white flesh (also known as the ‘meat’) of the coconut with filtered water, and then straining it through a fine mesh sieve or nut-milk bag. Nutritionally, this milk is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, as well as medium-chain triglycerides which provide the body with quick energy.

Soy Milk (non-dairy)



When I suggest to my patients that they reduce their consumption of dairy products, many ask me about soy products and soy milk. In moderation, soy is a healthy food and provides some nutritional benefits such as moderate amounts of protein and calcium. However, soy is the most genetically modified food crop in the world, and there are no studies showing the potential harm in long term consumption of GMO foods. Only 1% of the world’s soy crop is grown organically, making it increasingly difficult to find it in it’s natural form, so I advise clients to limit their intake of soy milk and other soy products (such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame)

I hope this helps you next time you’re feeling adventurous at the grocery store, and want to try a new milk/mylk! What are your current favourites in your household? Leave a comment and let me know!

I’ll leave you with a simple D.I.Y almond milk recipe:



Ingredients



1.5 cups raw, unsalted almonds
4 cups filtered water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon (optional)



Method



Soak almonds overnight in water. Drain and then combine almonds with water in high power blender. Add vanilla and cinnamon, blend. Using a fine sieve or nut milk bag, pour the mix through to separate the pulp from the liquid. Keep in sealed container and use within 5 days.
*Retain the pulp and add it to your baking, smoothies or yogurt.

Posted in: Nutrition Topics

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