Guide to Milk Alternatives

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With the increasing awareness of food allergies and intolerance, there has also been an increase in the variety and quality of non-dairy milks. Cow’s milk, in particular, presents a challenge to many people’s digestive tracts and to parents who struggle to find something nutritious and creamy for their young ones, that tastes like milk. Unfortunately, there isn’t any milk alternative that is exactly like milk – so different alternatives work better for different situations. Here are some alternatives that you may want to consider. Keep in mind that many of these are available in tetra pak, so they can be stored (unopened) in a cupboard.

Soy Milk – This non-dairy beverage is a popular choice and it’s carried by most grocery store chains. Soy milk has a smooth flavor with a creamy finish which is well liked by most. It is high in protein and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. However there has been some controversy over its ability to spike estrogen levels. Plus soy is one of the top 8 most common allergens and may not be tolerated by everyone.

Rice Milk – Rice milk is widely tolerated and well liked. It is smooth, but not creamy and has a sweet finish. It is a good choice for a stand alone beverage or to eat with cereal. However it has very little nutritional value unless it has been fortified by the manufacturer. There are few vitamins or minerals and it is very low in fat. With such little fat, rice milk is a poor choice for cooking or baking, or supplementing a young child’s diet.

Hemp Milk – This dairy alternative is relatively new to the American market, but has been popular in Canada for quite some time. Hemp milk is thick and rich. It is packed with protein, omega 3’s, 6’s and amino acids. Also, many manufacturers fortify it with as much calcium as milk. It has about the same fat content as whole milk, this makes hemp milk an excellent choice for cooking or baking. Hemp milk does not contain THC.

Coconut Milk Beverage – With a texture and flavor very similar to cow’s milk, ready made coconut milk beverages are becoming very popular. It’s a wonderful choice for baking, cooking and well liked as a stand alone beverage. Caution must be taken because the FDA considers coconut to be a tree nut, however many people with tree nut allergies are able to tolerate coconut. Coconut milk beverages are generally a good source of B12 plus low in trans fat and cholesterol.

Oat Milk – This non dairy beverage is not as popular as others but is similar to rice milk in consistency. While it is a good choice for cereal, oatmeal or sauces, it is generally not a good choice for baking due to it’s low fat content. Oat milk is a good source of fiber and is generally well tolerated; however, it may not be a good choice for those with celiac sprue, as the oats may be contaminated with gluten.

Almond Milk – Almond milk is light with a creamy texture and somewhat sweet finish. It’s texture and flavor are somewhat similar to cow’s milk and well liked. Almond milk (and other nut milks) are wonderful choices for baking and cooking, especially for chowders and soups. It is high in protein and antioxidants. Unfortunately almonds (tree nuts) are one of top 8 most common allergens, so caution must be taken.

If you are interested in food allergy testing, please contact us.

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July 2010