Alternative Milk 101

October 24, 2011

Need a quick guide for shopping for milk alternatives? Well here is the 101 taking you through the milk alternatives basics

Need a quick guide for shopping for milk alternatives? Well here is the 101 taking you through the milk alternatives basics.

What are milk alternatives? Milk alternatives include, reduced-lactose cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant sources that substitute in texture and flavor for cow’s milk for cooking, baking and/or drinking.

How to buy: Both refrigerated and shelf-stable choices available. Plant sources that are shelf stable are relatively similar to their refrigerated counterparts.

How to Read the Label: Check for additional sodium and sugars or fortifications of calcium and vitamins. May be high in calories. Always read ingredients and compare products, the choices with the least ingredients are best.

Choices: Lactose-free milk is cow’s milk with the enzyme lactase added to convert the natural sugar, lactose, to glucose for easier digestion.

Goat’s milk has slightly lower levels of lactose (.6 less), more calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, and iron. Goats milk may taste more tangy than cows milk and can take some getting used to.

Nut milks can be made from pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts. High in protein, and minerals, nut milks may have additional sweeteners and fortifications. Taste is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to nut milks.

Seed milks can be made from hemp, sunflower, flaxseed, pumpkin, and sesame seeds. 
Hemp milk is high in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E. Its calcium is comparable to almond milk. Other seed milks vary in their nutrient profiles but contain a plethora of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

Rice milk is made from brown rice and available non-sweetened or sweetened with rice syrup or evaporated cane juice. Most rice milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Soymilk, made from soybeans, is comparable to cow’s milk in protein; high in vitamin B, good source of lecithin and vitamin E. Some research points to soymilk’s LDL lowering affects.

How to Use: Use alternative milks in place of cow’s milk. Some adjustments necessary for cooking or baking; read box directions for specific instructions.

How to Store: Keep refrigerated cartons chilled; place shelf-stable boxes in cupboard until ready-to-use. All opened containers should be refrigerated; read package for specifics.

Health Benefits: Varied sources of calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Almond, hemp, goat and other nut and seed milks are best choices- easy for some to digest. Good alternative for those with allergies.

For more 101s download our app for iPhone and iPad here.