the healthiest dairy-free milk

What is the healthiest dairy-free milk?

Food, Nutrology

In the last few years, supermarket shelves have offered several plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk. Soy milk has been available for many years, and recent offerings include “milk” based on almonds, rice, and coconut. Just published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology is a study by McGill University (Canada) of these milks, and here is a summary.

Why choose an alternative?

First, why would someone choose to buy a milk alternative, especially since they are all much more expensive than regular cow’s milk? The first reason would be lactose intolerance. Depending on race, your intestinal health, age, and other factors, between 15% and 75% of adults don’t have enough lactase enzyme to break down the lactose sugar in cow’s milk. Even a higher percentage of those of Asian, Indigenous, and African heritage are lactose intolerant.

Other people seeking alternatives may have a milk allergy, which is more common in children. Up to 4% of children have a milk allergy, although most outgrow this by adolescence. Another group seeking alternatives are those vegetarians who avoid dairy.

Summary: Unsweetened dairy-free milks


Pros: High in protein and calcium

Good balance of fats, protein, and carbohydrates

High content of phytonutrients (may decrease cancer risk)

Closest to cow’s milk in terms of nutrition

Cons: Some people don’t like flavor

Some don’t like because is GMO soy or may potentially have anti-androgenic effects (though most research does not substantiate these health concerns)


Pros: Most people like the flavor

Low in calories

High in healthy monosaturated fats (helps lower “bad”    cholesterol)

Cons: Relatively low in protein


Pros: Low in calories and carbohydrates

May help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol

Cons: Low in nutrients

No protein


Pros: Good for the (very rare) person allergic to soy and almonds

Cons: High calories

Low in nutrients

Low in protein

Especially children can suffer nutritional deficiencies if their diet is based on rice milk

Soy is the winner

The Canadian scientists rated soy milk as the best all-around milk alternative. It is closest in nutrition to cow’s milk. Almond milk is the second choice nutritionally. Coconut milk may be best if low calories and low carbohydrates are most important for you. Finally, rice milk is the weakest in nutrition, and there in not much reason to choose this unless you are the very rare person with almond and soy allergies.

Cow’s milk

For various reasons, some people do not like cow’s milk, but its composition is closest to human milk. It has the highest nutritional value, and costs the least. You might consider organic cow’s milk if you can find it. However you have these other alternatives to consider, with soy the overall best choice nutritionally.

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See also in ProcuraMed:

Plant based diet better than medication for one type of reflux

Arsenic in rice: How to prepare healthier rice

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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