Non-Dairy Milk: What Does It Mean For Your Health?
Image Credit: Soy milk is a great alternative | Unsplash

If you can’t drink cow’s milk, then it might seem like there isn’t much left for you to drink. However, there are plenty of other options out there that don’t come from cows. One such option is non-dairy milk. These milks don’t come from cows; rather, they are made using plant-based additives or ingredients instead of cow’s milk. As the name suggests, non-dairy milks do not contain any dairy ingredients. They are made using plant-based additives or emulsifiers instead of dairy ingredients like casein and whey.

What is non-dairy milk?

Non-dairy milks are milks that are made from plant-based additives or ingredients instead of cow’s milk. They are a replacement for cow’s milk and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians as they come from plants instead of animals. Non-dairy milks can be found in yogurts, milkshakes, smoothies, and much more. Non-dairy milks are often used by vegetarians and vegans. These people are often allergic to dairy products and choose to avoid them because they believe they cause allergies or other health problems.

Non-dairy milk varieties

Soy Milk 

Soy milk is made from either soybeans or soy milk protein isolate, and it is often thickened or seasoned with vegetable oils to enhance its taste and consistency. It is frequently mild and creamy in flavor. in spite of the fact that tastes vary between brands and that it is ideal for use in savory recipes, such as coffee and cereal, as a nondairy alternative to cow's milk.

A cup (240 ml) of unsweetened soy milk contains 80 to 90 calories, 4 to 4.5 grams of fat, 7 to 9 grams of protein, and 4 to 6 grams of carbohydrates (8, 9). Soy milk is a close nondairy alternative to cow milk in terms of diet. It is equal in protein but has half the calories, saturated fat, and carbohydrates as cow's milk. 

Almond Milk

Whole almonds or almond butter and water are used to make almond milk. It is available in both sweet and nutty flavors, and it is light and creamy. Coffee, tea, and smoothies can be mixed with it, and it may also be used as a substitution for cow’s milk in baked goods and desserts.

One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened almond milk contains 30–35 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, and 1–2 grams of carbohydrates (16, 17). It has less than a quarter of the calories and less than half the fat of cow’s milk, but it is also significantly lower in protein and carbohydrates.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from the water and white flesh of coconuts. They are used to create coconut milk, which is sold in cartons alongside milk and has a creamy texture and subtle coconut flavor. The sweet but subtle coconut flavor of coconut milk makes it an excellent choice for preparing Indian and Southeast Asian dishes.

In addition to almost no carbohydrates, 1 cup of coconut milk contains 4 grams of fat, 45 calories, 4 grams of protein, and no protein. Coconut milk contains one-third the calories of cow's milk, half the fat, and one-third the protein and carbohydrates as other nondairy milks. It might not be the best choice for people who need more protein, but it would be good for people who want to cut back on carbohydrates.

Oat Milk

In its most basic form, oat milk is made by combining oats and water. However, manufacturers frequently add various substances, including salts, oils, and gums, in order to produce a palatable flavor and texture. It is naturally sweet and mild in flavor, despite the addition of extra substances. Oat milk may be used like cow milk in cooking, and it tastes great with cereal or in smoothies.

One cup (240 ml) contains 140–170 calories, 4.5–5 grams of fat, 2.5–5 grams of protein, and 19–29 grams of carbohydrates. Oat milk has a similar number of calories to cow milk, including up to double the number of carbohydrates and about half the amount of protein and fat.

Is non-dairy milk better than conventional milk?

Although non-dairy milks are often used by vegetarians and vegans as a healthy, plant-based option, they are not healthier than conventional milk. Many non-dairy milks are just as high in sugar and calories as regular milk, if not more. Non-dairy milk is just a mainstream alternative that comes from plants rather than from cows. This makes them a great option for people who are lactose-intolerant or who are allergic to dairy, but it does not make them a healthy option. The best way to decide if non-dairy milk is for you is to try it out and see how you like it. You may discover that non-dairy milk is not for you but is actually better than conventional milk, or you may discover that you love non-dairy milk and prefer it to conventional milk.