Which milk is best?

soy, skim, rice, almond…since when are there so many milks and “do I have to finish mine before I can leave the dinner table?” (sorry mom)

Almond, soy, rice, skim- which milk is the healthiest?

Almond, soy, rice, skim- which milk is the healthiest?

Soy Milk: a great source of protein, but subject of much debate. Some studies show it increases the risk of breast cancer in young women, some show it decreases the risk for middle-aged women. Soy is unique because it mimics estrogen in the body. Essentially- the jury is out on this one, so I recommend it in moderation. A little soy won’t hurt you, but since the science isn’t clear on this I don’t incorporate it into my daily routine. Side note: edamame, the latest snack trend, is soy beans.

Rice Milk: lower in protein and higher in carbs than your standard cow’s milk (not a good thing), rice milk has a bad rap for the taste not being close to ‘regular milk’. Personally, I’ve never tried this one purely from lack of desire.

Almond Milk: This is my top choice in terms of a dairy-free milk. Almond milk is lower in calories and higher in calcium than cow’s milk. The problem with almond milks you find in a supermarket (along with other processed non-dairy milks) is that many have been artificially sweetened and contain added preservatives aka fake stuff. A particularly bad additive to look out for is carrageenan. I like Silk brand “unsweetened original”, which you can find in the breakfast aisle.

Cow’s Milk: Low-fat cow’s milk is a part of my daily coffee routine. I opt for low fat (1%) over skim because a little bit of fat helps with feeling satisfied, and makes my drink much creamier. For people who do not have a lactose intolerance, there is nothing wrong with a little old fashioned dairy milk in moderation. I choose cow’s milk because the additives in processed non-dairy milks outweigh the potential benefits, in my opinion.

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26 thoughts on “Which milk is best?

  1. I’m having digestive issues with tree nuts so almond milk is out. To be honest, I don’t feel optimal after cow’s milk (I did an elimination diet last year for three weeks, and milk was one of the few things I re-introduced that didn’t quite work for me – but I’m just dandy with yogurt and cheese — limiting both of those, however, as they seem to encourage me to put on weight…)

    Rice milk has as much useful body as skim milk, so… no. Semi-white water… With soy, I prefer to ingest fermented forms (tempeh, miso), which soy milk is not. Yes, I’ll snack occasionally on edamame but this is at the very most every other month.

    I have heard that things get added back in to milks that are less than whole milk to keep it palatable — I’m not sure I want to drink whatever those things are. The other thing is that whole milk is really 3.5% milk fats, which isn’t really that much more than 1% milk fats. And, as I don’t use milk much at all (even before eliminating it from nearly all remaining uses such as that cuppa joe mentioned below) when I do use it, it will be whole milk.

    After the elimination diet, (about a year ago) I began to phase out milk from my coffee. At this point, only really BAAAD coffee gets milk. I also have cut way back on coffee, too. Two morning cups, max. Usually one. (Exceptions are late night drives of an hour or more — the need to be safely alert trumps…)

    There’s coconut milk, but I tend to prefer to use this in Thai dishes. There is definitely a quality difference between canned (few if any additives) and boxed or bottled.

    Thank you for things to think about.

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  2. I like almond milk too – I’ve never thought about making my own…?
    I have a question about cow’s milk: I recieved a family food box from a local provider, locally produced veg, meat, fish…. and non-homogenised milk. It’s a bit lumpy, it tastes ok – is it really healthier though?

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    • Hi there! Thank you for stopping by! In regards to making your own almond milk, you can soak unsalted almonds in a full blender of water overnight. Then add a pinch of salt and cinnamon, blend, and strain with a cheese cloth.
      As far as the homogenized milk debate, the reason your non homogenized milk is lumpy is because the whole point of homogenization is to mechanically whip the fat globules into staying suspended evenly in milk. There is some debate that doing this alters the way our body absorbs the nutrients and enzymes in milk in a harmful way, but science is yet to prove anything. I drink homogenized milk because I do all my shopping in a standard grocery market and only use a touch of milk for coffee in the morning.

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  3. You know, I’m old fashioned in a sense, meaning I love regular, real milk. I have no health issues that would make me need to consider other alternatives (for which I’m grateful) so I try and get in at least 2 glasses of 1% a day along with my Greek yogurt.
    I’m glad to see you included real milk in your comparisons of other “milks”.

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    • I was nervous I’d catch a lot of heat for this post, I know it’s not trendy to support real milk. I don’t have a lactose sensitivity either, so for me all of the processing that most almond/soy milks undergo just doesn’t make it worth it to switch. Thanks for your sweet & supportive comment!

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  4. My family drink organic non-homogenised milk which I use for my coffee but I agree that almond milk is so simple to make and I do enjoy that too. I know a lot of people love soy milk but a lot of soy is GMO and it is so difficult to know whether that is what you are buying or not so I stay clear.

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    • to be 100% honest, it certainly has its nutritional advantages with healthy fats, but I have had a lifelong repulsion to all things coconut. I’ve never tried it because my hatred for coconut flavor is overwhelming! I wish I liked it!

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      • Thanks for the response! I go back and forth between almond and coconut and have been doing some research on which on is better! :)

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  5. Great post! I do like almond milk and I’ve been thinking on making my own. On the other hand we do drink organic whole milk from grass fed cows, the fat that goes into your milk from these cows is actually good fat and did you know that low fat milk may not be as healthy. According to Harvard professor of pediatrics David Ludwig, MD. low fat milk is high in sugar and may be contributing to the obesity epidemic. Another good milk we get is raw cows milk cream on top and coconut milk for sure, I love coconut!

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  6. What are your thoughts on the new super market trend, cashew milk? Even if you haven’t tried it, are you impressed by the stats? I recently received a coupon from Silk to try it and was DELIGHTED by the creaminess for little fat and sugar content (in the unsweetened choice). Just curious if you’ve looked much into it. I know it’s fairly new to supermarkets!

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    • It’s funny you bring that up- I haven’t looked into the nutritional info on it yet but my first thought was WOW that’ll be nice and creamy! The main thing I would look out for is additives, but I’m definitely intrigued by it!

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    • Thanks for commenting! I have heard that, but I try to focus on your basic supermarket options. I always use my mom as my baseline; as soon as I start talking too ‘health foody’ she checks out- as do most of my students :)

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  7. I agree about the Almond milk – I’ve been trying to find one that doesn’t have all that extra ‘stuff’ in it since it’s all the rage right now…..I will try the Silk brand now that I see this! Thanks for the info

    Liked by 1 person

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