The Best Tasting Milk Alternative for You

Dairy milk is a dietary staple for millions of people around the world, but for some, digesting it is impossible. According to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse, between 30 million and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, meaning that their bodies don’t make lactase, the enzyme that allows us to digest dairy.

People with lactose intolerance aren’t the only ones who need milk alternatives. Vegans don’t eat animal products and often rely on milk alternatives to drink, pour over cereal, and use in cooking and baking. It can be confusing to sort through milk alternatives and choose the one that’s right for you – so we’ve created this guide to help you choose.

Milk Alternatives

Soy Milk

Of all the available milk alternatives, soy milk has been around the longest. It is made from soybeans, which are rich in protein. Soy milk contains seven grams of protein per cup and 80 calories. It is often fortified with Vitamin D and calcium, giving it nutritional content that is close to regular cow’s milk. It contains all nine essential amino acids.

The downside of soy milk is that consuming soy may not be an option for everybody. Some people are allergic to soy. There’s also evidence to suggest that eating more than 2-3 servings of soy per day is not a good idea.

Almond Milk

Almond milk has become popular because of its pleasant flavor. It is made by mixing almonds or almond butter with water. In fact, almond milk is mostly water and has less nutritional value than dairy milk.

Almond Milk

One cup of almond milk contains only 40 calories, making it a good, low-calorie alternative to soy milk. However, it has only one gram of protein and half a gram of fiber. Since almond milk is made from almonds, it is not a safe milk alternative for people with nut allergies.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk has a lot in common with almond milk because it is made in the same way, by mixing nuts with water. Its nutritional content is similar as well, with less than a gram of protein per serving.

Cashew milk has a mild, nutty flavor that many people enjoy. It may be a good choice if you like the flavor and you’re getting enough protein elsewhere in your diet.

Macadamia Nut Milk

Macadamia nuts are high in fat and make a delicious snack. Macadamia nut milk is the third nut milk on our list and is made the same way as almond milk and cashew milk.

Macadamia Nut Milk

The advantage of drinking macadamia nut milk instead of almond or cashew milk is that one cup may contain between one and five grams of protein. It’s also a good source of healthy fat while having less than half the calories of regular milk.

Pistachio Milk

Pistachio milk is made by mixing pistachios and water and straining the water. One cup of unsweetened pistachio milk has about 50 calories, two grams of protein, and one gram of fiber.

Pistachio milk has a delicious, nutty flavor and like the other nut milks listed here, is usually fortified with calcium, Vitamin D, and other nutrients.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is having a moment with a surge in popularity due to its naturally sweet taste. Oat milk is made by mixing oats and water and straining the water, after which thickeners and stabilizers are added. (That’s the case with all non-dairy milk.)

Unlike nut milks, oat milk contains beta-glucans, which may help to prevent heart disease. A serving contains 130 calories, three grams of protein, and five grams of fat. It is a rich source of Vitamin B-12 and is usually enriched with Vitamin D and iron.

Oat Milk

Coconut Milk

If you’ve ever read about the Paleo diet, you know that medium-chain triglycerides are an excellent source of energy. Coconut milk is high in MCTs and fat, making it one of the most satiating milk alternatives.

Coconut milk contains between 50 and 70 calories per cup. (Note: we are talking about coconut milk beverages, not the canned coconut milk that is sometimes used in curries.) It has less than a gram of protein and is a good source of calcium and magnesium.

Rice Milk

Rice milk may be a good milk alternative for people who are allergic to tree nuts or soy. It is the milk alternative with the highest glycemic index and is not recommended for people who are watching their sugar intake.

Rice Milk

One cup of rice milk contains 115 calories, less than a gram of protein, and more than 12 grams of sugar. It may be fortified with calcium but is not a good source on its own.

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is made by blending water with hemp seeds and then straining it. It is a good option for people who are allergic to tree nuts.

One of the most common misconceptions about hemp is that consuming it will make you high. That isn’t true because hemp contains only trace amount of THC, the compound in marijuana that creates that “high” feeling. One cup has about 130 calories, four grams of protein, and like soy milk, contains all nine essential amino acids.

Tips for Choosing a Milk Alternative

It can be overwhelming to stand in a supermarket and decide which milk alternative to buy. Here are some tips to help you decide.

  • Start by eliminating any options that aren’t suitable due to an allergy. People with tree nut allergies should not drink almond, cashew, macadamia, or pistachio milk.
  • Review the ingredients on each label. Look for additives that you might want to avoid.
  • Be aware that many milk alternatives contain added sugar – and some of them have a lot! You can easily spot the sweetened products by looking for the “added sugar” line item on the nutritional label.
  • Pay attention to the price. Some milk alternatives are less expensive than others. For example, pistachio and cashew milk are sometimes more expensive than almond milk.

What are some milk Alternatives

It may take some trial and error to find a milk alternative (and a brand) that you like. The taste of almond milk can vary greatly from brand to brand and so can its mouthfeel. Brands that have thickeners added have a creamier texture than brands that aren’t thickened. Some people buy different milk alternatives for different uses, so don’t be afraid to mix and match!