Plant-Based Milks You Need to Know

January 30, 2018

Plant-Based Milks You Need to Know

The list of alternative “milks” keeps growing; here are four alternative milks and their health benefits you should know about.

The list of alternative “milks” keeps growing; here are four alternative milks you should know about.

Oat. Oats have many healing properties and are best known for their high protein and fiber content and cholesterol reducing abilities. Oats are even known to boost immunity and improve the health of your skin and hair. The average cup of oat milk contains about 4 g of protein, 130 calories, 2.5 g fat, 2 g fiber, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. Oat milk is naturally rich in fiber and iron. Oat milk also provides many important vitamins and minerals including manganese, potassium, many B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Cashew. On average, one cup of cashew milk has 35 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 1 gram of carbohydrates. Cashews are a great source of iron, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium and zinc. Their high antioxidant as well as vitamin and mineral content is thought to help lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and keep immunity up. Despite their rich flavor and mouth feel, cashews actually have a lower fat content compared to most other nuts and most of the fat they do contain is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil.

Hemp. On average one cup contains about 70 calories, 3 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fat. Hemp milk is high in the essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (EFAs), and contains all the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Hemp is also high in magnesium, iron, potassium, fiber and phytonutrients, plus natural antioxidants like vitamin E.

Sunflower seed. Sunflower seed milk generally contains 45 calories, 4 grams of fat, and one gram of protein per cup. Sunflower seeds are packed with minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and manganese. They contain large amounts of vitamin E. In fact, ¼ cup takes care of ½ of the recommended daily requirement. They also contain significant amounts of tryptophan, which helps boost mood and decrease anxiety. Boost immunity, promote brain and heart health, strengthen bones and teeth, and promote beautiful, younger-looking skin from within. Sunflower seeds have also been linked to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and promoting heart health.

Coconut milk is a sweet, milky white beverage derived from the meat of a mature coconut. It’s a great source of iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, and potassium. Some varieties have a large amount of fat, so shoppers beware. Commercial varieties of coconut milk can be found flavored to suit any taste.  

Soy milk is made from soybeans and is one of the most popular milk alternatives on the supermarket shelves. According to the FDA, “25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Soy milk is a good source of protein (equivalent to cow’s milk) and is high in vitamin B. It is also a good source of vitamin E, and is safe for the lactose intolerant or those with a milk allergy.

Pea milk is a newet product in the plant-based milk world. With the same amount of protein as cow's milk but half the sugar. It’s high in potassium, and provides a good source of omega-3s, vitamin D and iron, and has small environmental footprint. It has been recommended as an alternative to cow's milk for toddlers, particularly because it is dariy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.