The low-down: “Almond millk is a popular lactose-free milk alternative, as it contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and D,” shares Pooja Vig, owner of The Nutrition Clinic. It also doesn’t contain any saturated fat or cholesterol.
Don’t rely on it as a protein source, however – a regular cup of almond milk contains only a single gram of protein, compared to the eight grams found in a cup of cow’s milk. Non-fortified almond milk is also devoid of calcium.
Use it: Drink it on its own, or use it in baked goods, smoothies and even curries. “Many brands of almond milk contain a lot of thickeners and stabilisers, so select one with the simplest ingredients – in this case, less is more,” advises Pooja.
The low-down: Coconut milk contains lots of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, E, B2, B3, B5, B6, selenium, calcium and iron. “While it’s high in fat, this fat comes mainly in the form of saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides, which are actually associated with weight loss due to their calorie-burning properties,” shares Pooja.
Plus it’s lactose-free, gluten-free and high in fibre – a single cup of coconut milk contains more than five grams of fibre.
Use it: While it’s commonly used in curries, you can also use it to add richness and depth to soups, stews and puddings. Its sweet and creamy nature makes it great for baking, too.
The low-down: Oat milk contains a relatively high amount of protein, with an average of four grams a cup. It is also devoid of cholesterol and saturated fat – great for those watching their waistlines.
“Do note that while oat milk is lactose-free, it isn’t gluten-free,” warns Pooja. If you suffer from gluten intolerance, you can make your own oat milk at home using gluten-free oats instead.
Use it: Oat milk is thinner in consistency than other milk alternatives, so add it to your cereals or hot beverages like coffee and tea.
The low-down: Goat’s milk actually contains 13 per cent more calcium than cow’s milk, as well as slightly less lactose. It is also chock-full of vitamin A, potassium, niacin, copper and more. “Goat’s milk is closer in structure to human’s milk as it is slightly alkaline compared to cow’s milk, which is slightly acidic,” Pooja notes.
Another plus point – it’s more easily digested by your body, thanks to its unique protein structure and smaller fat globules.
Use it: Goat’s milk has a characteristic odour, so it might be an acquired taste for some. Try using it to make goat’s cheese, yogurt or even ice cream.
The low-down: Rice milk is one of the most hypoallergenic milk alternatives around, as it’s suitable for those with lactose, gluten and nut intolerance. “However, rice milk is very low in calcium and protein, so most manufacturers fortify it with vitamins. You should be choosing milk alternatives with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals whenever possible insread,” says Pooja.
Rice milk is also very high in carbohydrates – 23 grams or more a cup – so it’s not suitable for diabetics.
Use it: With cereals and oatmeal. Or try substituting cow’s milk or condensed milk for vanilla-flavoured rice milk when making desserts – it’ll impart a subtle sweetness to your dish.
This article was originally published in Simply Her May 2015.