Alternative milks are big business, but can they help you to cash in on a wellbeing boost?
Change is happening. In times gone by, soy milk was only used by those with a milk allergy. The idea of “milking” a nut was nonsensical.
But now alternative milks have gone mainstream. In the last few years UK dairy sales have fallen by more than £240m. In contrast, non-dairy milk sales have increased by more than 155%, with a growing number of people opting for plant-based alternatives due to dairy allergy, lactose intolerance, sustainability, as well as health and lifestyle choices.
However, is there anything more to it than just taste? According to nutritionist Stephanie Goold, nutritionally, there is no advantage to having other milks if you’re not intolerant to cow’s milk. In fact, it can actually be missing a lot of the benefits inside every slurp of semi-skimmed. Therefore, when choosing plant-based milk, it’s important to look for fortified options. Nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B12 and iodine are sometimes added, bringing them up to similar levels found in cow’s milk.
On the plus side: generally, plant-based milks do not contain the same levels of calories, fat or carbohydrate as whole cow’s milk. However, apart from soya milk, many milks do not contain comparative levels of protein. Plus, dairy foods are one of the main sources of iodine in the UK diet. Therefore, people who have restricted dairy consumption, can be at risk of iodine deficiency. Iodine is essential for thyroid health, which is responsible for metabolism, growth and development.
Basically – it’s swings and roundabouts! If you like cow’s milk, stick to cow’s milk. If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of animal produce you consume, or are simply looking for a change, then these pros and cons from Stephanie Goold can help you choose the correct carton for your basket.
It’s a complete protein source that is the most nutritionally comparable to cow’s milk. It’s a source of isoflavones, which exert anti-cancer properties, plus it’s low in saturated fat.
Women with oestrogen-sensitive cancers should limit soy intake. And for those who haven’t tried it before, soy is a common allergen – which could manifest as physical symptoms in the skin such as a rash or gastrointestinal discomfort.
Taste-wise, the creamy texture and flavour of oat milk makes it a good alternative to cow’s milk. And from an environmental perspective, the direct greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, fertilizer, and energy usage are substantially lower (16–41%) for oat-based milk substitutes when compared to cow’s milk.
Oat milk is high in carbohydrates, natural sugars and calories so not best suited for low carbohydrate diets. It is also low in protein, so perhaps not the best post-workout option.
Contains lauric acid which can support immunity, brain health and elasticity of blood vessels. As well as containing good levels of vitamin E for healthy skin.
Low in protein and has a distinctive, strong flavour that can overpower foods and drinks.
A naturally more sweeter tasting milk, a great alternative for those who suffer from common nut or soy allergies.
Rice milk is higher in sugar and carbohydrates compared to other non-dairy options, and again is low in protein. Plus, it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other plant milk.
A source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), considered helpful in weight loss and weight management as it is low in calories. Plus, it’s good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.
Not suitable for people who suffer from tree nut allergies. And, once again, it’s low in protein.
We are all biochemically unique, lead different lifestyles and therefore have varying nutritional requirements. If you’d like personalised advice, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org