Got (Plant) Milk?

Plant Based Milks

Almonds can’t be milked (duh!). Coconuts don’t have udders (thank goodness!). Nevertheless, plant-based “milks” are taking over dairy sections in grocery stores around the country. Whether you’re considering going non-dairy for good, or just curious about adding a splash of soy milk to your morning coffee, here’s what you should know.

Cow-nterfeits
Plant milk isn’t real milk. Instead of coming from a cow, it’s processed from plants such as nuts, coconuts, seeds, and grains. There’s even talk about possibly removing milkyogurt, and cheese from the labels of plant-based products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration worries that consumers may misinterpret these terms to mean that plant alternatives have the same nutritional qualities as dairy products.

Glass Half Full
Plant-based milk may not have the same nutrients as cow’s milk, but it still offers several benefits. For starters, many varieties contain health-promoting compounds. What’s more, plant milk serves as a non-dairy substitute for those who are lactose intolerant, allergic to milk, or vegan. And even if you don’t need to take milk products out of your diet, plant-based milk can be a fun change in taste and texture.

Not All Milks Are Created Equal
When it comes to choosing the plant milk for you, consider the pros and cons of these four popular varieties:

 

Almond milk

Coconut milk

Oat milk

Soy milk

Pros

Contains vitamin E, potassium, magnesium

Contains antioxidants

Contains beta-glucan (may help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels)

Good source of protein (closest to cow’s milk)

Cons

Low in protein

High in saturated fat

Low in calcium

Low in calcium

Opt for “fortified” versions to get as many nutrients as possible. But keep in mind that you still may not be getting all the calcium, protein, and vitamin D that comes with dairy. That’s why it’s important to meet with a dietician and learn how to incorporate plant-based milk into a healthy, balanced diet for you and your family.

Phone a Physician
Not sure how to find a registered dietician? Ask your primary care provider (PCP)! Based on your medical history and lifestyle, he or she can recommend the dietician who’s right for you. Visit our Primary Care page to learn more about the benefits of having a PCP and how you can get medical advice outside of normal business hours.