In recent years, non-dairy milk has become a popular choice, not just for those living a plant-based or sustainable vegan lifestyle (1), but for anyone who generally wants to live a little healthier. After all, research reveals (2) the many health issues tied to cow's milk, like lactose intolerance and allergies.
Fortunately, we're spoiled for choice over the non-dairy alternatives available. From rice and almond, to oat and soy, here’s a quick overview of everything you need to know about non-dairy milk.
Soy milk is often the first and arguably the most popular non-dairy alternative to milk. It’s the closest you can get to the nutrient balance found in cow’s milk—calcium and all. Plus, it boasts additional benefits (3) such as lowering your sugar levels and preventing heart disease, primarily due to its high fibre and anti-inflammatory content. It’s also naturally free from lactose.
While it’s easy to find in most stores, it’s just as easy to make at home. You only need two main ingredients: water and soybeans (the yellow type is preferable). Just let the soybeans soak overnight, peel its skin, and blend with water until the colour turns close to white. Strain the mixture to remove the whole chunks, boil it, and it’s good as done.
Almond milk is inarguably one of the best-tasting dairy milk alternatives, due to its distinct, nutty flavour. This variety has no saturated fat, which makes it good for lowering blood pressure. Almonds are naturally high in vitamin D and calcium (4) too, which means it's ideal for fighting off diseases and promoting stronger bones. Take note that most almond milk that you’ll find in the groceries is sweetened. As such, you’ll have to look for the ones that are labelled sugar-free if you're craving for the natural almond taste.
Rice milk is high in protein and easy to digest. This article (5) also finds that it’s low in cholesterol and is naturally high in antioxidants, which helps strengthen the immune system. Since it’s made from rice, it has no allergens either. For those with food allergies, this is your best bet.
It’s rare to find rice milk in your everyday supermarket, so it’s more convenient to make it at home. You can make a home-made version by blending a cup of cooked rice with four cups of water, and then straining it with a cheesecloth. When it comes to preparing the rice itself, you’ll find that the rice cookers reviewed on this website (6) are great at cooking brown rice in a snap. So, the next time you’re preparing rice to go with your meal, why not make a little more for some rice milk? You can even sweeten the deal by whipping up rice milk desserts, like a pudding or sorbet.
Coconut milk is the white, milky byproduct extracted from the flesh of ripe coconuts. It’s high in a special type of fatty acid called medium-chain triglycerides (7), which stimulate energy. This means it's a great option for those who often perform a lot of high-energy activities like athletes and fitness trainers.
Since its texture and taste are both very near to the dairy variety, it’s also the closest alternative to use in dishes that contain milk, such as curry, soup, and savoury sauces.
If you use milk to sweeten your coffee (8), then oat milk can be the best option out there. It is made out of steel-cut oats or whole groats that are, once again, soaked in water, blended, and then strained with a cheesecloth. Since oats absorb water better than nuts, more of the oats are able to pass through the cheesecloth, giving the mixture a much creamier texture. Oats tend to be much higher in carbs, but none of it is fat.
In conclusion, there truly is no “best” alternative when it comes to milk. It’s all about how you want to consume it, what health benefits you’re looking for, and what ingredients are readily accessible in your area. Try to taste a bit of everything to see which variety works for your palette.
Article exclusively written for madebyfressko.com
By Rita Jolene
- Totally Vegan Buzz - Which vegan milk has the least impact on our climate?
- NCBI - How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?
- Health Fitness Revolution - Health Benefits of Soy Milk
- Inquirer.net - Why Almond Milk Is Better Than Hemp Milk
- Fit Day - Pros and Cons of Rice Milk
- We Know Rice - Trusted Rice Cooker reviews and delicious rice recipes
- The List - When you drink coconut milk everyday, this is what happens to your body
- Made by Fressko - 5 Tips For More Ethical Coffee Consumption