Healthy Habits: A Guide to Dairy Milk Alternatives

Dairy Milk Alternatives - 'Milk' Shakes

With so many milk options out there, from oat milks to nut milks and everything in between. It can be hard to know which ones will suit your diet and which ones are worth it. It’s great that we can get dairy milk alternatives in all the main supermarkets now, however many contain sugar, are overpriced or are not what they’re cracked up to be. To help you figure this all out, I’ve done a run down of the main types of dairy milk alternatives and the benefits of each…

Soy Milk

Soy milk has to be one of the most popular non-dairy milks. You can get soy lattes in all the main coffee chains and hotels now, which is a great sign of the increased demand for dairy milk alternatives. Commercial soy milk contains vitamins A, B and D as well as calcium, potassium and magnesium – it’s also a great source of protein. Make sure you buy the unsweetened kind.

Almond Milk 

Almond milk is loaded with vitamins E and D. Ecomil, Provamel and Plenish are the brands I tend to buy as they contain 6.5-7% almonds, other versions such as regular Rude Health or Alpro only have 1-2% almonds in! Go for a variety with no added sugar, and avoid the additive carrageenan on the ingredients list. There are many other nut milks available now too such as hazelnut, these tend to be pricier but are delicious if you fancy trying something different.

Oat Milk

Oat milk has to be my favourite, it’s so cheap and easy to make at home. Just add some oats to filtered water and blend together, then sieve and store in an airtight bottle in the fridge. Nutritionally, oat milk contains great levels of iron and fibre. Oat milk also contains many vitamins and minerals including manganese, potassium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and vitamins E and A. Wow – what a power house! Oatly is a great brand you can get in the supermarkets that works really well for frothy lattes.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is another great choice as it contains manganese and good fats. The fat (lauric acid) is converted by the body into monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial compound. Opt for a minimally processed variety, again avoid added sugar and additives like carrageenan. It’s also relatively easy to make at home, just add hot water (not boiling) and unsweetened coconut flakes to a blender. Sieve or strain through a cheese cloth and store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Great for a turmeric or matcha latte!

Rice Milk

As far as dairy milk alternatives go, rice milk is probably my least favourite.  It’s higher in carbohydrates, and contains few nutrients than the others. Starchy water isn’t my idea of fabulous. That being said, if you have allergies to dairy and nuts, then it’s a good alternative. But do be sure to buy varieties that are fortified with calcium and protein to ensure there nutritional benefits.

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is the Queen, she has it all. No, really! Hemp milk has all the essential amino acids, plus omega 3 and 6, protein, vitamins A ,D, and E, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, a high amount of calcium, vitamin B12 and potassium. If you are looking for an alternative milk that nourishes, go for hemp! Great in overnight oats for a post workout boost.

So, there you go. A quick guide to dairy milk alternatives, and some tips on when to use them.

Ruth x

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