How to Choose the Best Milk Alternative for You
I received a few comments and messages after my last blog last week on diet diversity about my thoughts on milk alternatives like nut milks, soy milk etc. Here are my thoughts on how to choose the best one.
Basically it’s all about you. When I speak to people about why they choose the alternative they use, for most the main deciding factor is how it tastes. There is nothing wrong with this as food should be enjoyed. I hear many comments too however about what they don’t like about the milk alternatives they choose not to use. They are either not sweet enough, too watery, or simply just “disgusting”. It is all about personal taste.
I was a bit the same when I moved away from milk years ago, but as I learnt more about nutrition, I now use a few different types depending on what I want out of it; so it’s not as much about taste, but about the nutrition profile for my needs at the time.
When we look at milk alternatives the main ones we see on the shelves are:
Most milk alternatives are not naturally sweet (except for rice milk); but it still gets down to personal taste. If you opt for a sweetened variety, be aware that it will have a higher sugar (carbohydrate) content. Whilst milk alternatives are also not naturally high in Calcium, many varieties can be bought with added calcium.
The basic nutritional profile of each one can be summarized as follows in comparison to each other:
So are you going nuts over soy, rice, oat or coconut milks? Or are you just going nuts trying to decide!
I recommend you consider the nutrient profile in relation to your nutrient needs. If you drink a lot of coconut milk for example, you will be increasing your saturated fat intake, which you might be trying to keep low.
I use a couple of different milk alternatives depending on its purpose. I use a blend of coconut and/or almond milk along with rice milk in my smoothies to give me some fat and carbs in the morning. I use plain rice milk as a stand-alone drink for a sweet tasting carb hit, or add it to a protein shake for post work out recovery.
At the end of the day it will most likely come down to taste, as why would we drink something we don’t like? If you aren’t drinking it straight up, then one you don’t like the taste of, but like the nutrient profile, would be perfect for a smoothie, cooking etc.
Enjoy your choices, enjoy your milk alternatives, and enjoy variety!