Milk’s Many Choices

Moo-ve over, Bessie: Today milks come from a variety of sources,
including soy, nuts and rice—and as ready-to-go milk alternatives.

By Allan Richter

April 2009

What could be more wholesome than a glass of milk? Wait, not so fast. As we explained in “Not Milk?” (October 2008), cow milk presents a number of problems including lactose intolerance (which causes digestive difficulties), bacterial contamination caused by inadequate pasteurization and exposure to a number of agricultural chemicals. These concerns all help explain the increasing popularity of non-dairy milks—those made from nuts, rice, soybeans and other sources—among consumers. For example, the Soyfoods Association of North America says that sales of soy milk went from $832 million in 2005 to nearly $1.5 billion in 2007. Here we present some milk options that don’t involve having a cow.

 

Soy Milk
One of the best-known milk alternatives
Good because: Provides roughly 10 grams of protein per one-cup serving
But: Contains little digestible calcium

Rice Milk
Most brands are made from brown rice
Good because: Provides a gently sweet taste without the lactose in cow milk
But: Only 1 gram of protein per serving, with 24 grams of carbs

Goat Milk
Best known in the US as the basis for Greek feta cheese
Good because: Contains finer, more easily digested fat particles than cow milk
But: It can have a tangy flavor depending on the herd’s diet

Almond Milk
The most commonly available nut milk; others include hazelnut and walnut
Good because: Contains no cholesterol or lactose while providing a reasonable amount of calcium
But: Like rice milk it provides only 1 gram of protein per serving

Milk Alternative
Fluid milk is not practical if you’re out and about.
The answer: powdered milk substitutes
Good because: The best ones have a rich, creamy taste, along with protein from sources
such as rice, pea and soy in addition to all the vitamins and minerals (and then some)
of cow milk; avoid products that do not provide a protein, carb, fat and nutrition profile
similar to that of cow milk
But: Powdered milk substitutes are only as good as the water you mix them with;
for best results use purified water

Blueberry Almond Smoothie
(serves 2)
2 cups
plain yogurt
2 tbsp soy protein powder
2 cups low-fat almond milk
2 cups blueberries
1 cup mango,
fresh or frozen
2 cups water
3 tbsp coconut butter
flax oil, to taste

Milk can be as old-fashioned as cereal topping or as up-to-date as
smoothies tailored to meet the needs of world-class athletes, and high-nutrition
milk substitutes make one of the world’s oldest drinks even more versatile.
Your mother was right: You should drink your milk. But it’s nice to
know that cow milk isn’t your only—or best—option.

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