What Milk is Right For You?

milkOur options at the grocery store are always expanding, and milk is no exception. With lots of new dietary trends on the rise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The most commonly consumed milk is cow’s milk, but other plant-based milks are quickly gaining mainstream popularity. Should you stick with the classic, or maybe branch out and try something new? How do they compare?

It can be hard to know if you’re making the right choice for yourself and your family, but we’ve got the skinny on some milk varieties to help you make the right dairy decision. 

Use our chart for a nutritional comparison of types of milk.

Cow’s Milk

  • Milk has varying fat/calorie content depending on the type you buy. The fat in milk is saturated fat.
  • Cow’s milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D (“excellent” means it has more than 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance).
  • Some people worry about standard milk containing antibiotics or hormones, which are used to treat the cows that give the milk. In that case, choose organic milk. Organic milk comes from cows that aren’t treated with antibiotics and that don’t receive growth hormones to improve milk production. Their feed must be grown without the use of pesticides, and they must be allowed some time to graze in a pasture. Despite this, research has not shown any negative health effects from drinking standard milk over organic.
  • Lactose is found only in cow’s milk. Those with lactose intolerance can choose a milk alternative (below) or can choose a lactose-free milk, which is cow’s milk that has been altered so as not to contain lactose.

Almond Milk

  • Almond milk is made from grinding together almonds and water and then straining out the pulp.
  • The fat in almond milk is unsaturated.
  • It usually has added sugar in it unless it specifically says “unsweetened” on the label.
  • Almond milk is very low in protein. Protein helps with increased feelings of satisfaction after eating a meal. In this way, swapping almond milk for traditional milk in your cereal or smoothie in the morning might actually lead to increased cravings and food consumption later in the day.

Coconut Milk

  • Coconut milk is made from shredding coconut, mixing it with water and then straining out the pulp.
  • Coconut milk comes in many varieties based on fat content. Thick varieties of coconut milk have up to 25 percent fat content and are very high in calories. Thinner versions have much lower fat content – between 5 and 7 percent.
  • It can be sweetened or unsweetened, so make sure you check your label if you’re trying to avoid added sugar in your diet. Unsweetened coconut milk will have 1 gram of sugar or less on the food label.
  • Coconut milk is low in calcium, vitamin D, potassium and phosphorous as compared to cow’s milk.
  • It’s lactose free.
  • Coconut milk is popular in many Asian, tropical and South American cuisines.

Soy Milk

  • Soy milk is made from grinding together soy beans with water and draining out the pulp.
  • It has less carbohydrates than cow’s milk and about 4 grams of unsaturated fat per cup.
  • Soy milk generally contains added sugar unless it says “unsweetened” on the label.
  • Soy milk will sometimes have vitamins and minerals added to it so that it better mimics the nutrient profile of cow’s milk. Commonly added nutrients include calcium and vitamin A.
  • It doesn’t contain lactose.

Plant-based milks like soy, almond and coconut can be a godsend to family members who are lactose-intolerant, as well as a refreshing alternative to common dairy milk. Our nutritional comparison of types of milk is a helpful source to compare calcium, fat and more.

Join the conversation. Now that you’ve got the skinny on milk, what do you think? Are you sticking with good, old classic dairy, or are you feeling adventurous enough to try something new? Let us know!

  4 comments for “What Milk is Right For You?

  1. Anonymous
    December 30, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    My daughter suffered from horrible eczema for years and when we stopped milk and cheeses her eczema vanished, completely, definitely some issues with cows milk – we stay clear now!!

  2. samantha
    June 30, 2016 at 8:28 am

    what do you think about the new milk wise?

    • June 30, 2016 at 10:59 am

      According to our nutritionist: “Milkwise is one of many altered cow’s milk products out there (Simply Smart and Fairlife are two others). Milkwise has been altered to contain a little less sugar and calories than regular milk. It’s fine to use as an alternative if you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake, but it wouldn’t make much of a difference unless you’re drinking more than 1 glass per day.”

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