Which Type of Milk Is Best for You?

Which Type of Milk Is Best for You?

In recent years, the dairy aisle has evolved and expanded with a variety of new options and milk alternatives, but with all those choices, the real question is: what milk is best for you? Whether you’re looking to experiment with plant-based alternatives, searching for the healthiest milk option or just interested in exploring new varieties, we’ve got the breakdown of how these beverages stack up against each other.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is one of the most commonly consumed foods and is jam-packed with key nutrients, including calcium, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. It’s a very nutritious option for adults and children who don’t have lactose intolerance or a milk allergy. The average adult should choose low-fat or fat-free option to help limit the amount of saturated fat in their diets. Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can have health implications, like raising your “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease.

An 8-ounce serving of 1% milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 100
  • Total fat: 2.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Calcium: 300 mg
  • Vitamin A: 150 mcg
  • Vitamin D: 2.5 mcg

Soy Milk

Nutritionally speaking, soy milk is the plant-based alternative that’s closest to cow’s milk. Soybeans are a great source of complete protein, and soy milks are fortified to resemble the nutritional profile of cow’s milk. Soy milk is an excellent choice if you’re looking to avoid or limit dairy in your diet but want to make sure you’re choosing a higher protein option. Selecting the unsweetened varieties of soy milk will help limit added sugars in your diet.

An 8-ounce serving of unsweetened soy milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 80
  • Total fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Calcium: 300 mg
  • Vitamin A: 150 mcg
  • Vitamin D: 3 mcg

Almond Milk

This non-dairy alternative is made by soaking almonds in water and then blending and straining out the solid bits. It’s a tasty option for those who are allergic to soy, lactose intolerant or are just searching for something new. It has a creamy consistency similar to soy milk, and a slightly nutty flavor that works well in smoothies. Almond milk is also high in vitamin E, a nutrient that promotes healthy skin. However, with only 1-2 grams of protein per 8-ounce cup, compared to the 7 grams found in soy milk and 8 grams in cow’s milk, almond milk isn’t considered a good source of protein.

An 8-ounce serving of unsweetened almond milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 40
  • Total fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Calcium: 50 mg
  • Vitamin A: 90 mcg
  • Vitamin D: 5 mcg

Oat Milk

The newest plant-based variety to hit the market, oat milk is a good choice for those with allergies and intolerances, as it’s naturally free of lactose, soy, nuts and

gluten (if made from certified gluten-free oats). This milk is made from strained oats, and though you’re not receiving the exact same nutrients as you’d get from

eating a bowl of oats, oat milk is often enriched with many of the nutrients that are lost in the straining process. It provides a smooth and full flavor, similar to that of

nut milk. Compared to other types of milk, oat milk generally has more calories, carbohydrates and fiber than the milks mentioned above, and provides less protein

than soy and dairy varieties. Like most plant-based alternatives, we recommend choosing an unsweetened or low-sugar variety to maximize the health benefits.

An 8-ounce serving of oat milk provides the following:

  • Calories: 80
  • Total fat: 1.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Calcium: 18 mg
  • Vitamin A: 180 mcg
  • Vitamin D: 0 mcg

Consuming dairy products provides an array of health benefits, including improved bone health and the potential to help maintain healthy blood pressure. When choosing the best milk to drink for your health, it’s important to consider your specific nutritional needs. If you’re unsure what to choose, schedule a Telenutrition appointment and connect with a dietitian today! Check out more healthy tips here.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide healthcare recommendations. For concerns, please see a healthcare provider.