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Drink Your Milk!

Today, there are a variety of milk options available. Which one should you choose?

As a child, your mother told you to drink your milk every night at dinner. She knew the calcium in milk was helpful for building strong bones and the protein would build strong muscles. But that’s all changed, as cow milk’s heyday is in the past. Now, many people avoid dairy products due to lactose intolerance. Others avoid dairy for its high fat content, because it contributes to acne or eczema, or for other health concerns.

Thankfully, cow’s milk is no longer your only option. There are plenty of other types of milks to choose from. Here are a few pros and cons of each.

1. Rice

Rice milk is the least likely type of milk to cause allergic reactions, so if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to milk, nuts, or soy, rice milk is a great alternative. Made from milled rice and water, rice milk is often fortified with vitamin D and calcium. If you like your milk a little on the sweet side, you may prefer rice milk.
Compared to other milks, rice milk is highest in carbohydrates, with 22 grams per cup, making it a poor choice for diabetics. It’s also low in protein with less than a gram per cup. Also, some are concerned about high levels of inorganic arsenic in rice, which may be harmful to babies and children.

2. Soy

Soy milk is another plant-based milk option. Made from soybeans and filtered water, soy milk may also contain thickeners for consistency. It’s low in saturated fat and is cholesterol- and lactose-free. Since soybeans are naturally high in protein, so is soy milk. A single cup contains 7 grams of protein! Soy milk also contains potassium and is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Unfortunately, many people are allergic to soy. It’s likely that soybeans are harvested from genetically modified plants.

3. Almond

Unsweetened almond milk is another milk alternative that’s a great option if you’re looking for a milk that’s vegan-friendly, low in calories, lactose-free, and free of saturated fat. Made from ground almonds and water, almond milk may contain starches to thicken its consistency. Almond milk is naturally low in calcium, but most brands of almond milk are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A.

While you would think almond milk would be high in protein, it’s not. A cup of almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein. If you choose sweetened almond milk, expect a higher amount of calories and carbohydrates. Allergic to nuts or almonds? You’ll obviously want to avoid almond milk. Also, some people may experience digestive problems from the carrageenan in almond milk.

4. Coconut

Unlike coconut milk sold in cans, a coconut milk beverage is more diluted. Made from coconut cream and water, coconut milk often contains thickeners and other ingredients. While it doesn’t naturally contain calcium, vitamin D, or vitamin A, it is usually fortified with these nutrients. Coconut milk is another type of milk that’s typically safe for people with allergies.
Not surprisingly, coconut milk is higher in fat than other milks, with 5 grams of fat per cup. It also contains 0 grams of protein. As with almond milk, coconut milk contains carrageenan, which may cause digestive problems.

5. Oat

Another non-dairy, plant-based milk alternative is oat milk. With a creamy, frothy consistency, oat milk is made from steel-cut oats and water. Since it’s made from oats, it contains more fiber than other types of milk. Oat milk has 0 grams of saturated fat and 4 grams of protein. While this is less than cow’s milk and soy milk, it’s more than almond, coconut, and rice.

If you’re avoiding gluten, make sure your oat milk is certified gluten-free since it may be processed on shared equipment.