Not everyone can drink dairy milk, whether due to allergies or lactose intolerance. And there is a growing audience that eschews dairy milk for ethical and health reasons. Fortunately, the market is coming up with a variety of alternatives to dairy milk, some better than others. Here are 4 great alternatives to dairy milk.
Almond milk’s major benefit is the creamy texture similar to dairy milk, though users also enjoy the fact that it looks like dairy milk. It contains a lot of vitamin E and is often fortified with other nutrients. Its lower calorie content than cow’s milk is a plus for those on diets. Conversely, it has less protein than soy milk or dairy milk. Almond milk can also be made at home from ground almonds and water, though many brands mix some sweeteners with it.
We recommend almond milk over the more recent product cashew milk because it is more commonly available and thus cheaper. And almond milk can be added to baking mixes without altering the flavor much.
One benefit of flaxseed milk is that it is gluten-free, so it is absolutely safe for someone with celiac disease to eat, something that isn’t certain if you are using oat milk. The fortified versions of flaxseed milk have as much protein as dairy milk, while unlike soy, it won’t interfere with the absorption of calcium and iron. And unlike rice milk, it isn’t too watery or high in carbohydrates. Flaxseed milk also holds about as well as rice milk when baking.
Flaxseed milk is high in fiber and contains chemicals that help your body fight heart disease. It is a natural source of folic acid and antioxidants. Be careful of how much sugar is added to some flaxseed milks before you buy it.
Soy milk is a classic alternative to dairy milk. It is widely available, unlike some other diary alternatives. It is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D as sold on the shelf. The soy provides proteins that reduce one’s risk of heart disease. It is also high in protein.
The downside is that the substances in soy that mimic estrogens may have negative long-term effects. The phytates in it actually impact the body’s ability to absorb calcium and iron. And it must be avoided by those allergic to soy.
Coconut milk is the best dairy alternative if you want to mimic whole milk or cream. It has a thick, natural creaminess that makes it perfect for using in whipped cream substitutes or cream for your coffee. It is an amazing addition to hot cocoa. One downside is the near laxative effect of coconuts. One consideration is the high level of fats; one cup of coconut milk contains 20% of the daily recommended levels of saturated fat. You can reduce the potential impact by getting the unsweetened varieties.
The best dairy milks are those that your body can tolerate, since food allergies rule out certain dairy milk alternatives for many people. The ideal dairy milk alternative meets your nutritional needs while tasting great, though whether you need one that tastes good in coffee or baked dishes depends on your preferences.