Milk Alternatives for Animal Milk
They say that the best people love to eat! But not all food is for everyone. Either certain foods may not agree with you, or you perhaps choose not to eat them because of ethical reasons or dietary ones. This seems to be the case with milk, either due to intolerances, allergies, or veganism, and so animal milk such as cow’s milk, sheep’s milk or goat’s milk may not be an option for some people. In fact, the market has evolved around these dietary requirements and has produced several milk alternatives, especially since milk is used for a number of items from baking a cake to having a nice cup of tea. Yet it is important to analyse each milk alternative to identify which could be the right one for you.
Nut Based Milk
Nuts have become a great source for non-dairy milk alternatives. They generally reflect the same nutritional makeup as the nut they come from, which is quite similar across different nuts. It goes without saying, that those with nut allergies should look towards soy milk or grain milk substitutes as another alternative.
Almond milk is one of the go-to milk substitutes, not only because of its low-calorie count, but also because it can also be easily made at home by soaking the almonds overnight then blending them with water. After, strain the mixture through a nut-milk bag sold at health stores, a cheesecloth or any other substitute. This method can also be applied to most of the other nut milk mentioned here.
Almonds are rich in healthy fats and so are believed to reduce cholesterol. They are also very high in protein, fibre and vitamin E and have been used to lower blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels. Whilst store-bought almond milk does not contain as much of the nutritional benefits found in whole almonds as they are often blanched and their skin removed, it is still rich in antioxidants.
Coconut milk is another staple for non-dairy milk alternatives and is also a go-to ingredient for curries and other types of Indian or Asian dishes due to its creaminess. If you are going to make coconut milk yourself, make sure that the shredded coconut you buy from the store is unsweetened.
Similarly to almonds, coconuts are also said to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, contain antioxidants as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. However, they have more fats and less protein than almond milk which may be a factor depending on each person’s particular diet preferences and requirements.
Similar to coconut milk, cashew milk is a nut derived milk that is creamy in texture. It is also similar in nutritional data. This means that whilst it is not high in protein, it is also low in carbohydrates and sugars. Cashews themselves are also high in fibre and are believed to have benefits for your eyes, hair and skin due to their antioxidants.
The last nut milk in this article, but definitely not the least. You might have assumed by now that like most other nuts, macadamia nuts are rich in antioxidants which allow for a range of the health benefits related to cholesterol and heart disease, to (re)-mention a few. Macadamia nuts also have anti-cancer properties. Like other nut milk, it can also be made easily at home using the same process.
Bonus: Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is not exactly made from nuts but is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant that is closely related to nuts. Hemp seeds themselves are rich in healthy fat and proteins. They are believed to not only help keep your heart healthy, as well as reduce cholesterol and blood sugar, but to also help with digestion, PMS and menopause. Hemp milk is in fact recommended to vegans and vegetarians as it is very high in protein.
Grain and Legume Based Milk
Whilst nuts tend to be higher in healthy fats, grains tend to be higher in carbohydrates and the nutritional data of their milk show this. Most grain-based milk can also be made at home using a similar process to nut milk. For those with gluten intolerance, not all grain milk substitutes may be suitable for you.
Oats are a great protein source and oat milk is high in fibre. Oats also are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including magnesium and zinc, and there are also some gluten-free types available. Similarly to most nuts, oats can lower cholesterol, may prevent diabetes and can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Another gluten-free milk alternative, rice milk is also great for those with nut or soy allergies. However, it is very high in carbohydrates and its high glycemic index increases blood sugar. It is also lower in protein than some other milk which may be of concern for those on high protein diets.
Quinoa milk is gluten-free, low in fat and does not have as many carbohydrates as other grain milk. Quinoa is also high in protein, making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians, but might not be as easy to find in store. If not available, it can easily be made at home.
For those without any soy intolerance, soy milk is very rich in protein. Using yellow soybeans, soy milk can also be made at home by cooking the soybeans first, then going through the same process of blending with water and straining. Whilst some studies say that the isoflavones in soy have cancer-fighting properties, other studies show that these can affect hormones such as estrogen.
Whether you have a food intolerance or are avoiding cow, sheep or goat milk for any other reason, make sure you are getting the right nutrients and minerals that your body needs. When in doubt, check with a licensed food nutritionist regarding which milk alternatives are good for you. Milk as well as any other food you consume must be suited to your dietary requirements to make sure your health is always in tip-top shape. And Laferla’s Health Insurance does exactly that. For more information contact us today.