Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
Product Reviews
Tips & Tricks

Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

By: Sabrina Huda Sanchez


Over the past 20 years, the cold case section in supermarkets has experienced a takeover by nondairy alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, and others, which have become popular among consumers for a variety of reasons. These include a shift towards vegetarianism/veganism, lactose intolerance, concern over environmental impact, and weight loss. With numerous options available, many people wonder what sets these alternatives apart and whether any one of them is healthier than the others.

Let’s review these five types of nondairy milk alternatives:

  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Oat milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
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    Soy Milk

    - What is soy milk?

    Soy milk is a beverage made from soybeans that is entirely plant-based. To produce soy milk, soybeans are soaked, blended, cooked on the stovetop, and filtered, resulting in a pure liquid. However, commercial manufacturers may include other ingredients such as sweeteners, preservatives, and vitamins. Soy milk was one of the earliest and most popular non-dairy alternatives in the United States, preceding the introduction of various other options to grocery store shelves.

    - Is soy milk bad for you?

    Following its increased consumption, research has indicated that soy contains significant levels of estrogen-like compounds. Elevated levels of estrogen have been associated with increased risks of cancer cells, female fertility issues, and thyroid function. However, soy milk is a rich source of protein and has less saturated fat compared to cow's milk. When consumed in moderation, soy milk can be a beneficial choice.

    - Soy milk Nutrition Facts

    According to the USDA, these are the nutrition facts for 1 cup (243 g) of soy milk:
    Calories: 131
    Total Fat: 4.3 g
    Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
    Sodium: 124 mg
    Total Carbohydrates: 15 g
    Sugar: 10 g
    Protein: 8 g
    Calcium: 6% DRV
    Iron: 8% DRV

    Almond Milk

    - What is almond milk?

    Almond milk is a nutty-flavored, plant-based beverage made from almonds. To prepare it, almonds are soaked, blended with water, salt, and optionally vanilla extract, and then strained to remove any remaining nut granules. Commercially available almond milk typically contains preservatives, vitamins, and flavorings. Although almond milk is not nutrient-dense unless fortified, it is low in calories and high in calcium, which makes it a great addition to smoothies.

    - Is almond milk bad for the environment?

    California is the largest producer of almonds worldwide. However, there are concerns that almond farming requires a substantial amount of water, which is problematic because California has been experiencing drought conditions. The controversy over the allocation of water resources and the environmental impact of almond farming has made almond milk a controversial non-dairy milk alternative.

    - Almond milk Nutrition Facts

    According to Healthline, these are the nutrition facts for 1 cup (240 ml) of almond milk:
    Calories: 39
    Total Fat: 3 g
    Saturated Fat: unk
    Sodium: unk
    Total Carbohydrates: 3.5 g
    Sugar: unk
    Protein: 1 g
    Calcium: 24% DRV
    Iron: unk

    Oat Milk

    - What is oat milk?

    Oat milk is a non-dairy milk alternative made by soaking either steel-cut or rolled oats in water and then blending and straining the mixture. Although the resulting liquid loses some nutrients compared to the raw form of oats, it is allergen-free. Oat milk is a popular ingredient in coffee shop beverages and is frequently used in trendy drinks featured on social media. The texture and buoyancy of oat milk make it ideal for preparing layered drinks that photograph well, such as the Matcha Oat Milk.

    - Is oat milk healthy?

    Oat milk is not particularly nutritious in its basic form, which is why many manufacturers choose to enrich it with additional nutrients. However, it does contain healthy, soluble fiber known to improve heart health. For individuals who cannot consume dairy but have calcium deficiencies, fortified oat milk contains as much calcium as cow's milk.

    - Oat milk Nutrition Facts

    According to Healthline, these are the nutrition facts for 1 cup (240 ml) of almond milk:
    Calories: 120
    Total Fat: 5 g
    Saturated Fat: unk
    Sodium: unk
    Total Carbohydrates: 16 g
    Sugar: unk
    Protein: 3 g
    Calcium: 27% DRV
    Iron: 2% DRV

    Coconut Milk

    - What is coconut milk?

    Coconut milk is a creamy, non-dairy milk alternative made from the flesh of a coconut. There are two types of coconut milk: thick coconut milk, which is typically used for cooking, and thin coconut milk, which can be used in cereals, coffee, or consumed on its own. Unlike other non-dairy options, coconut milk is more commonly used as a cooking ingredient rather than as a beverage. In traditional cuisines of Asia and Africa, coconut milk is used to prepare curries and soups. However, it is high in saturated fats, which are considered unhealthy fats and should be consumed in moderation.

    - Coconut milk canned versus carton

    Coconut milk that is sold in cans is typically thicker than the type that is sold in cartons. The primary difference is the water content. Coconut flesh is naturally thick and oily, so when it is canned, it requires minimal processing. As a result, canned coconut milk tends to have a richer, creamier texture that is ideal for cooking, while the carton version is better suited for use in beverages.

     

    - Coconut milk Nutrition Facts

    According to the USDA, these are the nutrition facts for 1 tablespoon (15 g) of canned coconut milk:
    Calories: 34
    Total Fat: 3.6 g
    Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
    Sodium: 2 mg
    Total Carbohydrates: 0.8 g
    Sugar: 0.5 g
    Protein: 0.3 g
    Calcium: 0% DRV
    Iron: 1% DRV

    Hemp Milk

    - What is hemp milk?

    Hemp milk is a non-dairy milk alternative made from hemp seeds. The process involves soaking the seeds, blending them, and separating the debris from the liquid. Hemp milk has an earthy, nutty flavor that is similar to almond milk. Store-bought versions typically contain preservatives to extend their shelf life, and some brands may also include additional flavors and sweeteners.

    - Does hemp milk contain THC?

    While marijuana and hemp are derived from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of the psychoactive compound THC and do not produce any psychoactive effects. As a result, hemp milk is safe for everyone to consume, including children and individuals who may be sensitive to THC or other psychoactive compounds. It is important to note, however, that the legality of hemp-derived products can vary by region, so it is important to be aware of local laws and regulations regarding hemp products.

    - Hemp Milk Nutrition Facts

    According to WebMD, these are the nutrition facts for 1 cup of hemp milk:
    Calories: 130
    Total Fat: 3 g
    Saturated Fat: unk
    Sodium: unk
    Total Carbohydrates: 20 g
    Sugar: 15 g
    Protein: 4 g
    Calcium: unk
    Iron: unk

     

    Takeaway

    Milk has become a staple in the American diet, often consumed with cereals, coffee, and desserts. However, cow’s milk doesn't work for everyone, leading to a surge in popularity for non-dairy alternatives. It's important to weigh the pros and cons of each option, from taste to nutrient content, to find the right fit for you. You can find a variety of non-dairy alternatives, including the ones mentioned, at LollicupStore.

     

     

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