Cow’s milk is available in different varieties such as whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, skimmed milk, and even lactose-free milk.
For people with dietary concerns and lactose allergies, there are alternatives such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. There are also goat milk and oats milk that can be another good choice for people.
Almond milk, soy milk, and cow’s milk have their advantages and disadvantages depending on a person’s diet and nutritional needs. Their usage can also depend on personal taste preferences.
For example, some people cannot tolerate lactose present in dairy milk and may choose the alternatives.
Before labeling one product as healthier than other let’s look over the nutritional capacity of each.
8 ounce of cow’s milk contains 150 calories, 12-gram carbohydrates, 12.8 grams sugar, 8 grams fat, and 8 grams protein.(1) 1% cow’s milk would have lesser calories and fat content which would further lessen in skimmed cow’s milk.
From the whole milk of cows, none of the natural components are removed. The fat-free version is lower in fats and also low in certain nutrients. This milk can also be made lactose-free by breaking down lactose, a natural sugar present in cow’s milk.
Pros Of Cow’s Milk
- Whole milk provides essential proteins, extra calories, as well as vitamins and minerals.
- Its lactose-free version is also available for those intolerant to lactose.
- Cow milk’s grass-fed and low heat options are also available in the grocery stores and convenience stores.
Cons Of Cow’s Milk
- The whole milk version is high in fats and calories
- Those intolerant to lactose cannot consume it.
- Those having ethical concerns about modern dairy farming practices do not consume this milk.
Almond milk is made by ground almonds and filtered water and also contains starch that thickens it to improve its consistency and shelf life.
If you are allergic to almonds or nuts, you should avoid almond milk.
Unsweetened almond milk is lower in calories than other milk. It is free from saturated fats and naturally lactose-free.
One cup of unsweetened almond milk contains 30-60 calories, 2-gram carbohydrates, 0-gram sugar, 3 grams fat, and 1 gram protein.(2)
Almonds are a good source of protein, but the same cannot be said about almond milk. It is also not a good source of protein. Many brands of almond milk fortify the milk with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Pros Of Almond Milk
- Almond milk is low in calories
- It’s a vegan and naturally lactose-free product
- It can be fortified to be a good source of vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A
Cons Of Almond Milk
- Almond milk is low in protein content
- Almond milk may contain carrageenan that may cause digestive issues in some people
- There can be some environmental concerns about the amount of water used to cultivate almonds.
Soy milk is made from soy and filtered water. It may contain thickeners to improve its consistency and shelf life.
One cup of unsweetened soy milk contains 97.1 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, 3.5 grams fat, and 6.4 grams protein.(3) Soy milk is a plant derivative and is, therefore, free from cholesterol and low in saturated fats.
It does not contain lactose and can be therefore consumed by those allergic to lactose.
Pros of Soy Milk
- Soy milk is a good source of potassium and its milk can be fortified with vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium.
- The protein content of this milk is the same as cow’s milk and yet is low in calories.
- It contains very little saturated fats.
Cons of Soy Milk
- People allergic to soy cannot consume this milk
- Most soy products come from genetically modified plants, which can be of concern.
Cow’s Milk, Soy Milk or Almond Milk: Which is Better?
- Choosing what milk is best is an individual decision, depending on the nutrients most important to them.
- If someone needs to gain weight and need more calories, protein, calcium, and potassium, go ahead with whole cow’s milk.
- If trying to lose weight and need to cut down the calorie intake, almond milk is a good plant-based option.
- For those following a vegan diet plant-based products such as soy milk or almond milk would be better options.
- There is not just one from the above option that is what can be called the best.
Based on the body’s requirement you can choose what to add to your routine. There is no need to follow what others do, blindly. Maybe they consume almond milk as they are lactose intolerant, and no other reason. Similarly, the other types of milk would be a part of someone’s diet, due to a reason.
Labeling one product as the healthiest would be wrong. Choose your milk type according to the body’s needs and requirements.
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