You don’t have to go far to find some sort of plant-based milk these days. Rice and soy milks used to exist on dusty shelves hidden in a long-forgotten corner of a store. With a growing demand for dairy-free alternatives, though, you can easily find nut or seed milks at most grocery stores or supermarkets. If you frequent coffee shops, there are myriad non-dairy milks you can add to your coffee drinks.
With the sheer amount of options, though, how do you know which one is right for you? Your taste buds do play a role in this decision, but so do nutritional labels. While many plant-based milks can seem more appealing and healthier than regular dairy milk, this isn’t always the case. Often times, plant-based milks contain excess sugars, preservatives, thickeners, and more, all of which detract from their health benefits.
Why Drink Plant-Based Milk?
Dairy alternatives are substitutes for regular dairy milk. Produced from a plant, nut, or other substance, non-dairy milks do not contain lactose, making them great options for lactose intolerant people. In fact, allergies or intolerances are the two primary reasons that so many plant-based milk alternatives exist. Additionally, non-dairy milks are excellent options for people following certain diets that avoid animal products. Ultimately, though, people have different reasons and needs for consuming plant-based milk alternatives. Just remember to choose the varieties that are low in added sugars and preservatives. Continue reading to learn about the best milk alternatives according to dietitians.
Hemp Milk Is Best For Vegans
Why would one non-dairy milk be better than another for vegans? Well, hemp milk is naturally rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which promote optimal brain and heart function. Most omega-3s exist in fish, which you don’t consume while adhering to a vegan diet. Hemp seeds happen to be some of the best plant-based sources of omega-3s and protein. In fact, hemp seeds are complete proteins, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids.
Flax Milk Is Best For Omega-3s
Although hemp seeds are excellent sources of omega-3s, flax seeds provide the most ALA omega-3 fatty acids per ounce. Omega-3s help promote optimal brain and heart function, but they may also reduce inflammation and promote immunity. Another benefit of flax milk is that it is naturally cholesterol-free. Plus, it tastes great!
Oat Milk Is Best For Fiber
It’s a fact that many people fail to consume the recommended daily amount of fiber. One thing about oat milk is that the nutritional information varies from one brand to the next. Different manufacturers use different types of oats, which can dictate the fiber and general nutritional content. Oat milk may be the closest in flavor to regular dairy milk, making it a popular non-dairy alternative. Because it is rich in fiber, oat milk may help lower cholesterol and keep you full for longer. The only thing to keep in mind is that oat milk is relatively high in sugar, calories, and carbohydrates.
Cashew Milk Is Best For Cooking
When it comes to dairy-free cooking, certain plant-based milks do not fair well with heat or don’t provide the necessary thickness. Unsweetened cashew milk, however, offers a rich and creamy consistency, making it an excellent choice for sauces, vegan cheeses, and ice cream. Depending on the brand, cashew milk can be a bit pricier than other plant-based milks. Additionally, cashew milk is quite calorie-dense, meaning it may not be the best choice for weight-conscious people.
Coconut Milk Is Best For Active People
Why is one plant-based milk better than another in regards to activity? Well, coconut milk is rich in potassium, an electrolyte that helps support hydration and muscle and nerve function. Potassium is also essential for people looking to naturally lower blood pressure, as it works to reduce the amount of sodium in the body. There are a couple different varieties in regards to coconut milk, full-fat and lite being the two primary options. Undiluted, full-fat coconut milk is great for curries or soup, while lite coconut milk is better for drinking.
Almond Milk Is Best For Weight Management
In general, one cup of unsweetened almond milk contains less than 40 calories per serving, which is great for those who track what they eat. Almond milk exhibits a nutty flavor, making it ideal for baking and smoothies. Rich in vitamin A and other antioxidants, almond milk helps the body fight free radicals that can cause inflammation. The main thing to remember is to check the label before you purchase. Many almond milk varieties contain excess sugar and thickeners. MALK is an excellent brand for store bought almond milk, but you can easily make your own!