Mixing up your milk: What are your options?
The majority of people in the world have some form of cows milk intolerance or allergy, but with dairy used in so many things, giving it up can at first seem difficult.
Part of the fear surrounding going dairy free is knowing what to replace it with. There’s also an assumption that without milk, we’re unable to get the calcium intake that we need.
So what are the real facts?
Taking dairy out of your diet won’t leave you deficient as long as you have plenty of green leafy vegetables, soybeans, tofu, soy drinks with added calcium, nuts, anything made with fortified flour, sardines and pilchards.
What’s more, there’s actually a growing body of evidence that dairy isn’t crucial for bone health, with researchers at Harvard observing that subjects who drank dairy had an increased risk of hip fracture.
For lovers of all things dairy, there are also plenty of alternative milks out there to replace cows milk with so you don’t have to say goodbye to some of your favourite foods.
Here’s a look at some dairy-free milk choices.
Soy milk is perhaps the most widely known alternative to dairy milk. The main advantage to it is that it contains no lactose, which 75 per cent of the world’s population is allergic to. It’s also full of prebiotic sugars stachyose and raffinose, which help to improve the body’s immunity. Furthermore, because it doesn’t contain the saturated fats of cows milk, soy milk helps to lower cholesterol and the vegetable proteins it possess helps to reduce the loss of calcium through the kidneys.
If that wasn’t enough, the high isoflavones content in soy milk makes it perfect for reducing menopause symptoms, preventing osteoporosis and reducing the risk for certain cancers.
This is a really delicious alternative to dairy milk. Almond milk is lactose free but does contain 30 per cent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. It’s also a low fat option, with one cup containing just 60 calories, opposed to the 146 calories found in whole milk, 122 calories in two per cent, 102 calories in one per cent and the 86 calories in skimmed milk.
Like soy milk, almond milk has benefits for the heart as it’s low in sodium but high in healthy fats, such as omega fatty acids. It’s also low in carbs so barely affects blood sugar. Furthermore, almond milk contains fibre, which aids digestion, and boasts B vitamins that help support the muscles.
For those that don’t want to stray too far from cows milk, goats milk is the perfect alternative. Nutritionally it is the closest to cows milk but its physical properties mean that most people can drink it without any problems. It contains less Alpha-S1-casein, which is the protein many can’t tolerate in cows milk.
Nonetheless, goats milk has less lactose than cows milk, smaller fats and proteins that are easier to digest, vitamin B5 to help release energy from food, biotin, and oligosaccharides which are prebiotics.
Benefits of rice milk
Rice milk is billed as the most hypoallergenic of all milks and contains very little fat, meaning it can help with weight loss. It’s also high in all natural B vitamins, which help the metabolism, circulation and nerve function, and is an antioxidant. Like all cows milk alternatives, rice milk has benefits for cholesterol because it contains unsaturated fat, niacin and vitamin B6. However, rice milk is low in calcium and because it is starchy, it isn’t suitable for diabetics.
Which milk is right for you?
When it comes to choosing your alternative to cows milk, you need to think about what you’re trying to avoid, what you need from your new milk and – importantly – which one you prefer the taste of. If you don’t enjoy one type of milk, try the next and eventually you are sure to find a dairy free alternative that works for you.