Which Milk is Best? Round Two

IMG_4222

Hi there, are you ready for round two of which milk is best? Hopefully today I can post pictures that are right side up. But who knows? Every day is a mystery at Nutty Nutrition. Yesterday we talked about cow milk and almond milk. Today its on to soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, rice milk, and last but not least, breast milk!

Soy Milk. Of all the plant-based milks, soy is closest to cow’s milk in terms of nutrition. Soy milk is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins A and D (added), and provides some fat (but not as much as whole milk). A few years ago there was some concern over the relationship between soy intake and breast cancer due to the isoflavones found in soy (which are weak estrogen-like compounds found in plants). However, the research shows that soy does not raise your risk for breast cancer and it may even decrease your risk (although studies are mostly population based and have mixed results).coconut milk

Coconut Milk. Coconut milk is growing in popularity. From a nutritional stand point I don’t know why (if you like the way it tastes that’s one thing). It is high in saturated fat and it has no protein in it. Some people claim that the specific type of saturated fat found in coconut milk is better for you and doesn’t raise your risk for heart disease, but those claims are mostly unproven at this point.

Cashew Milk. Cashew milk is basically identical to almond milk, except with cashews. Choosing one over the other would just be a matter of taste preference.

Hemp and Flax Milk. Alright, if you really want to be granola go for the hemp milk. My grocery store doesn’t even carry it, but similar to flax milk, it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which most people could use more of.

Rice Milk. I would only recommend rice milk if you have ALL the allergies. It is soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc. It is also flavor-free. But if you have a lot of food allergies or intolerances it might be a good choice for you.

Breast Milk. Breast milk is the best choice for babies, NOT adults. Believe it or not, a grown man (or woman) has different nutritional needs that an infant. There is no need to buy breast milk online, which is actually a lot more popular than you may think. Also, gross.

So, which one is best? It depends. Nearly every type of milk offers some type of nutritional advantage. If you have a milk allergy, intolerance, or just don’t believe in drinking cow’s milk for ethical reasons, plant-based milks are a great substitute! Just keep in mind that soy milk is the only plant-based milk that is going to give you any significant amount of protein.

Personally, I prefer one or two percent organic cow milk, but I’m definitely not opposed to soy or almond milk either. All of the milk alternatives that I investigated were fortified with key nutrients like vitamins A and D, but it likely varies by brand. I would recommend that you take a look at the nutrition facts and make sure that your milk has at least 30% of the DV of calcium and contains vitamin A (palmitate) and vitamin D. For adults with a balanced diet, it’s not really critical which type of milk you drink. You don’t even have to drink milk at all, as your calcium needs can be met though food (if you are eating a varied and balanced diet). However, for small children, I would be careful about giving a milk alternative if they are drinking a lot of milk and not eating much food.

What kind of milk do your prefer?

References:

Soy. http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/nutrition/reduce_risk/foods/soy

Ask the Doctor: Coconut Oil http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/coconut-oil