Healthy Alternatives to Cow’s Milk-the low down on milk substitutes


So, this morning, I was hiking with a dear friend of mine and she asked me what the benefits of drinking coconut milk versus almond milk were. Were there any? What about fat content? What about taste? With so many dairy milk alternatives out there to choose from, how do you know which one is best for you? Well, that is what I am here for! Yay! Glad you tuned in, now, right? 🙂

So, let’s break these all down and hopefully you can feel confident in choosing what will best work for you as there is no right or wrong choice here…I say, as long as it’s not dairy, rock on with your bad self! Personally, I am not a fan or advocate for dairy milk, with the exception of raw because I can understand it’s benefit, in extremely small quantities. I mean, if you ‘must’ do cow, do raw cow, but I will present some information on the following milk alternatives: Almond, Coconut, Hemp Seed, and Rice Milk. So hard to choose!! They all offer different and delicious benefits…and you can certainly use them ALL! 🙂 All of these choices are vegan, do not contain saturated or trans fats or cholesterol and are excellent alternatives for people who are lactose intolerant. Intestinal problems such as IBS, ulcerative colitis, and allergies to lactose seem to be on the rise in this country, so it may be a good time to make the switch on over to one of these tasty and healthful alternatives!

Let’s start with my personal favorite: ALMOND MILK!

Almond milk is awesome because it contains many essential nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. The taste is very different than dairy milk and it could be described as light, and slightly nutty. I use the unsweetened and organic Pacific brand and I use it pretty much every day in my morning smoothie. You just use it as you would dairy milk-in cereal, smoothies, with (healthy) cookies, in soups, etc. In 8 oz of almond milk, you are getting 30-40 calories, 1 g protein, 2-3 g unsaturated fat, and this type of fat reduces your risk of heart disease, which unfortunately is the #1 killer in America! Drink up!

COCONUT MILK: So, just to clarify, there are 2 types of liquid associated with my favorite fruit, the coconut: coconut water and coconut milk. Coconut water is clear and comes out of the coconut once it is cracked open. It’s sweet and delicious. Coconut milk is a combo of that water and the meat that is inside. It has a higher fat content than the water, but again, it’s unsaturated fat and contains lauric acid, which actually promotes weight LOSS. Coconut milk contains medium chain fatty acid (MCFAs) versus long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) and the cool thing about that is that MCFAs break down and are digested easier than LCFAs, which is where most of our fats come from. MCFAs are used by the liver for energy and can also improve intestinal health. People who suffer from Candida, IBS or other digestive issues can certainly benefit from consuming coconut milk. Also, coconut milk contains vitamin B-12, which is important for vegetarians and vegans because you mostly find B-12 in animal sources, so people with these types of eating lifestyles sometimes lack this. B-12 is important for maintaining a healthy nervous system, DNA production and regulating red blood cells. In 1 cup, you will find 5 g unsaturated fat, 0 sugar, 1 g protein, 50% RDA vitamin B-12, 10% calcium and 30% vitamin D.

HEMP MILK: Don’t worry-it’s legal! It comes from the seeds of the hemp plant but does not contain THC, which is the active chemical in marijuana. Hemp milk also offers many benefits of which include supplying you with decent amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 oils. EFAs (essential fatty acids) are important for brain function, vision,  and also protect against heart disease. Omega-3 and omega-6 work together to combat inflammation in the body because they affect the production of hormonal type messengers called eicosanoids. They protect on a cellular level. In an 8 oz glass of hemp milk, you will find 900 mg Omega-3, 2800 mg Omega-6, all 10 essential amino acids, 4 g protein, 46% calcium and as with the others, no cholesterol or saturated fat.

RICE MILK: I used to be a huge consumer of rice milk until I switched to almond. A bit thinner and not quite as rich as almond milk, rice is light and watery, but still an awesome alternative to dairy and even soy milk. It lacks the ‘nutty’ flavor that almond milk has. It is processed from brown rice and usually contains rice syrup, evaporated cane juice or some other natural sweetener, so it’s mostly carbs and 1 cup contains 10 g of sugar, 23 g carbs, 120 calories, 2.5 g fat, and 1 g protein. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, this is probably not the best choice for you.

A note about other nut milks, such as hazelnut, cashew, Brazil nut, etc…all nut milks tend to offer a lot of the same benies, with regards to Omega-3s, but will vary in fat content. As we know, nuts contain healthful fat but when processed into milk, can be less fattening than eating the nut itself.

Need help transitioning or information on the benefits of switching from dairy to plant based sources? I’m here to help! Contact me at healingthrufood@gmail.com for more info or just to chime in about what type of milk YOU use and what you like to make with it! Always love hearing from you guys and comments here are encouraged as well as I’m always looking out for them!

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