- More people are buying non-dairy milk like soy, almond, and oat — the market grew 62% between 2012 and 2018.
- That’s great for the roughly five billion people who are lactose intolerant.
- But with so many varieties now crowding the dairy aisle, it’s hard to know which one to choose.
- A registered dietitian told us which milks are better for you based on protein, calories, fat, and vitamins.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Groetch: The rice milk and the coconut milk and the almond milk are very low in protein. So if you’re looking to get a protein source like a vegetarian or plant-based protein source, these are not very good.
Narrator: That’s registered dietician Marion Groetch. Today she’s gonna help us sort through all of these different non-dairy milks and tell us which ones might just be better for you.
In the last several years, the market for non-dairy milks has exploded, and that’s great for the some 65% of adults who are lactose intolerant, but with more than a dozen varieties now crowding the dairy aisle, it’s hard to know which one to choose. Ultimately, Groetch says, it comes down to what you’re looking for.
Groetch: So if you’re looking to get closest to cow’s milk, I would probably go with a soy milk just because it has more protein. It has about seven grams of protein per cup as opposed to eight grams in cow’s milk, and then oat milk is somewhere in between. About four grams of protein per cup of oat milk. Soy is high in protein because it comes from a bean, whereas oat comes from a grain, and it tends to have less protein in it. The protein in the soy milk is also more complete. If you’re looking to reduce your calories, almond milk might be a good choice. So the rice milk here is higher in calories or the highest in calories, and then we have oat, soy, coconut, and almond milk is usually the lowest in calories.
Narrator: But if you’re trying to watch your fat intake, you might actually want to avoid coconut milk.
Groetch: So soy has about four grams of fat per cup, and again, these are healthier fats than the fats that you might find in a 2% milk, but it’s equivalent in the amount of fat. Oat milk, about three grams. It depends on the brand. Coconut milk is a little bit higher. It’s about six grams of fat. I don’t really see the benefit to coconut milk. It’s higher in saturated fats, although now we know that the saturated fat in coconut is probably not as detrimental to cardiovascular health as we once thought, but I think the jury is still out, and I wouldn’t be taking a lot of saturated fats from coconut products right now.
Narrator: But when you’re choosing which milk to buy, there’s more to consider than just protein, calories, and fat.
Groetch: Most of them are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, but you have to purchase a fortified milk. So some are fortifying up to 45% of the daily value for calcium, whereas others are only fortifying up to 10%. So this rice milk is fortified with 30% of the daily value. So the daily value for calcium is 1,000 milligrams, and that covers most people. So 30% per cup would mean 300 milligrams of calcium per cup, and that’s equivalent to cow’s milk. Coconut milk, actually, is only fortified at 10%. So you’d only get 100 milligrams of calcium per cup. So it would be difficult to meet your calcium needs if you’re relying on a product like this for calcium. They’re mostly not fortified with other nutrients like potassium. Soy milk, actually, is a good source of potassium, but some of the others are not. So it really just depends on the milk and how it’s fortified. It depends on the brand.
Narrator: And that’s just it. Nutrients don’t just vary by type of milk, like almond or soy, but by brand, like Blue Diamond or Silk, and so do calories and fat. So the best way to choose the right milk is simple. Check out the label.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2019.