With so many types of milk alternatives on the market, how do you choose? Here are the nutrition facts for 6 different common types, so you can pick the best one for your goals!

Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives: Which is Best? - Daisybeet

Non-dairy milk alternatives are taking over the grocery store shelves. People are choosing plant-based milks over dairy milk for a variety of reasons. If you have a lactose allergy, are vegan, or want to make environmentally-friendly decisions, plant-based milk alternatives are for you!

With so many options on the market now, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to purchase. Here’s the breakdown of six different cow’s milk alternatives and how they stack up. The nutrition facts are all based on an 8 oz serving of the unsweetened variety.

Six dairy milk alternatives and how they stack up

1. Soy milk

Nutrition Facts per 8 oz serving:

  • Calories: 80
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Carbohydrate: 4 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.5 g

Soy milk is one of the best alternatives to dairy milk, in terms of its nutrition profile. It provides comparable amount of protein to low-fat cow’s milk, and is lower in carbohydrate with the added boost of 2 grams of fiber. While soy milk has slightly more fat than low-fat cow’s milk, it mostly comes from heart healthy unsaturated fat.

We can fortify soy milk with calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Soy milk is also more environmentally friendly to produce, as it uses less water and land, and produces less emissions.

2. Almond milk

Nutrition Facts per 8 oz serving:

  • Calories: 30
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Fat: 2.6 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.2 g

Almond milk is possibly the most popular milk alternative choice right now. But does it stack up nutritionally to other milk alternatives? When compared to the nutrition profile of low-fat cow’s milk, almond milk falls short in a number of categories.

While low in calories, a serving of almond milk only has 1 gram of protein. It has a little bit of fiber and healthy fats, but the almond milk you’re drinking off the shelves is mostly water. On the topic of water, almonds need a lot of it for growth and production! When compared to other alt-milks, almond milk isn’t the most environmentally friendly.

3. Oat milk

Nutrition Facts per 8 oz serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbohydrate: 16 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated fat: >1 g

Oat milk came on the alt-milk scene quite recently, and has become very popular. It’s thick and creamy texture is appealing to many people looking for dairy milk alternatives.

Nutritionally, oat milk has less protein than low-fat cow’s milk (3 g versus 8 g), and is comparable in calories. One serving of oat milk provides slightly greater carbohydrates than cow’s milk (16 g versus 12 g). But, oat milk packs a little bit of soluble fiber, which may help lower cholesterol. Most of the oat milks on the market are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Oat milk is an sustainable plant-based milk option, because it’s production requires less land and water than cow’s milk and other alt-milks. Additionally, oat milk manufacturing produces less emissions than cow’s milk and some of the other non-dairy options.

4. Coconut milk

Nutrition Facts per 8 oz serving (carton, not canned):

  • Calories: 40
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g

Similar to almond milk, coconut milk doesn’t provide a whole lot of nutritional benefits compared to cow’s milk and other alternatives. With no protein or fiber, coconut milk won’t contribute to feeling full after a meal. Also, 75% of the fat in coconut milk is saturated, which can add up if you are drinking it frequently.

5. Rice milk

Nutrition Facts per 8 oz serving:

  • Calories: 70
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 11 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g

Rice milk is a non-dairy milk alternative that has been around for a while. It’s known to be easy to digest, so it is a good option if you have food sensitivities. Nutritionally, rice milk doesn’t have much going for it in terms of protein and fiber. It is usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D, though, so it’s a good source of those hard to get nutrients.

While rice milk is more sustainable than cow’s milk, it is less so than oat milk and soy milk.

6. Hemp milk

Nutrition Facts per 8 oz serving:

  • Calories: 80
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.5 g

Hemp milk is made from hemp hearts, and has an appealing creamy texture. While it is lower in protein than cow’s milk or soy milk, hemp milk is a good source of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For vegans and vegetarians who do not consume fish, this is a great option to obtain these nutrients in the diet.

Hemp milk also requires little water to grow and produce, so it’s one of the more sustainable milk alternative options out there.

Which milk alternatives are best?

If you’re looking for a healthy, sustainable alternative to dairy milk, soy milk comes out on top. It contains filling protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s also good for the environment, compared to cow’s milk and almond milk.

Runner ups include oat milk, due to its soluble fiber, and hemp milk, with its provision of essential fatty acids. Both these options are good for the environment, too!

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