The Best Kind of Milk for Your Body. Your Inside Guide to Milk.

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I often get asked: “What kind of milk should I drink? Is soy bad for you? Does cow’s milk offer better nutrition? What type of milk do you put in your coffee? Is there protein in almond milk?” The inquires go on and on. 

If you’re curious about milk, I’ve got the A to your Q. Read below to fill your cup with milk insight and figure out which might be right for your diet.

Your Guide to Milk and Nut Milks

Cow’s Milk

Taste Profile: milk, ha! 

Benefits: Packed with nine essential nutrients – calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, riboflavin and niacin – milk is a nutrient powerhouse. The 12 grams of sugar come from naturally occurring lactose, not added sugar. There’s lots of emerging research on whether the saturated fat found in whole milk is beneficial for you; however, there’s no official verdict yet. If you don’t consume a lot of saturated fat in your diet overall, perhaps there’s room for it here. However, for most people, I would still recommend nonfat or 1 percent milk. The organic versus conventional debate is still going strong – which, to me, comes down to a personal preference in farming practices. Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference.

Best with: recipes, meals, or on its own 

But how does it taste in coffee? Creamy, dissolves well, and adds sweetness from natural sugars. 

Soy Milk

Soy milk has always been a good alternative for people with a milk intolerance or allergy. Packed with heart-healthy soy, 7 to 8 grams of protein and almost no saturated fat, it can definitely be a smart choice. 

Taste Profile: smooth, creamy, slightly sweet.

Benefits: Soy milk has a nutrition profile most similar to dairy milks (higher in protein, carbohydrates, and lower in fat than most other non-dairy milks). I don’t recommend drinking soy milk multiple times a day, everyday, as the soy proteins in soy milk are concentrated more than those proteins would be found in whole foods like organic edamame, organic tempeh, or organic soy nuts. Be mindful of your soy intake overall, but there’s no need to eliminate soy as it has beneficial phytonutrients.

Best with: Any recipe you would typically use dairy milks, soy milk is the most similar to dairy milk in texture.

But how does it taste with coffee?  Soy milk tastes great in coffee, dissolves well without any clumps or grittiness. Depending on the brand, soy milk in coffee can give it an aftertaste.

Almond Milk

Rich in calcium and a good source of vitamins D, E and A, almond milk has definitely become more popular in the last couple of years. Its taste and texture make it a great alternative for milk. However, just like with soy milk, if you buy the original or sweetened varieties, the sugar is from added cane sugar. But there are several unsweetened and now “light” varieties available, with 0 grams and 3 grams of sugar, respectively. Surprisingly, almond milk has minimal protein, so if you’re hoping to use it as a protein source with your meal, you are out of luck. But the good news is there’s room to add some protein to your breakfast meal or smoothie since almond milk is low in calories.

Taste Profile: slightly sweet, nutty.

Benefits: Almonds naturally contain vitamin E, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and healthy fats (monounsatured).

Best with: I use almond milk with everything from oatmeal porridge, in smoothies, hot cocoa, and other dishes where dairy milk is typically used. It’s my go-to non-dairy milk and most versatile.

But how does it taste with coffee? A bit watery but still tasty. Almond milk tends to separate when heated, therefore the best practice may be to add room temperature almond milk to warm or hot coffee.

Cashew Milk

Another nut option, cashew milk has not picked up as much momentum as almond milk. Its creamy taste, though, lends itself to be a perfect low-calorie swap in many recipes. Rich in calcium, just like almond milk, it can be a good source for people who avoid milk products. However, if you’re looking for a good protein addition for your meal, you might want to look elsewhere.

Taste Profile: creamy, sweet, the least nutty flavor of all nut and seed milks.

Benefits: A good source of healthy fats, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.

Best with: Cashew milk is great for when you need to thicken smoothies, add richness to non-dairy ice creams or savory dishes. My favorite way to enjoy cashew milk is poured in a tall glass with a side Aloha superfood chocolate (which you can use the code “carolinejordanfitness” at checkout for a discount 🙂 )  

But how does it taste with coffee?  Cashew milk is one of the three non-dairy milks I use in tea or coffee (the others being coconut milk or almond milk) due to the flavor, richness, and how it mixes with coffee.

Hemp Milk

Taste Profile: slightly sweet, nutty, watery texture.

Benefits: Hemp seed milk nutrition profile is highest in omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory and heart healthy fats), and the actual seed contains the most protein out of all the non-dairy nuts and seeds, with about 11g of protein per three tablespoons.

Best with: To drink on it’s own, enjoyed with cold cereal, incorporated into smoothies or anything that requires lighter milks (compared to skim dairy milks).

But how does it taste with coffee? Hemp milk is the thinnest of the non-dairy milks with a close second being rice milk. Hemp milk can be used in coffee, yet if you’re looking for a rich and creamy milk to add, coconut milk would be best and leave hemp milk for drinking or adding to hot tea.

Rice Milk

Original rice milk has more calories than the other milk alternatives (not including whole milk), but the high sugar amount is naturally occurring. Truthfully, I really don’t have much to say about rice milk since I rarely recommend it; it has always seemed to provide the least amount of nutrition compared to the others. However, for people with multiple food allergies, rice milk could be the only choice.

Taste Profile: slightly sweet, neutral.

Benefits: Easy on digestion, especially great for those who have nut, soy, or seed allergies of any kind. Rice milk nutrition profile is slightly higher in carbohydrates than most other non-dairy milks due to its source, which is a carbohydrate. Rice milk doesn’t contain as much protein or fat as most other non-dairy milks.

Best with: Mixed in smoothies, porridges, cold cereals, and you can drink it on its own.

But how does it taste with coffee? Rice milk, like hemp seed milk, is more watery than most other non-dairy milks.

Coconut Milk

Coconut in general is a hot trend right now, and I guess if you are Starbucks, you think that will translate into lots of beverage sales. It isn’t high in calories (compared to canned coconut cream), but it’s the highest of the milk alternatives in saturated fats. The jury is still out on whether saturated fats are beneficial for you – especially compared to unsaturated fats. But hey, if you really love the taste of coconut, go ahead and include a little in your diet – just keep in mind that, per serving, there is no protein and the drink has the least amount of calcium compared to the other milk options.

Taste Profile: sweet, subtle coconut flavor, thick, rich, and creamy.

Benefits: High in healthy saturated fats, mainly in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which are a type of fat that is absorbed and utilized as energy similar to a carbohydrate rather than other fats (like almonds, olive oil, et cetera). Bullet coffee has made coconut oil and MCT oils famous in the past several years for it’s ability to transform coffee into a frothy treat by emulsifying the oils with coffee.

Best with: Savory dishes like curry, soups, stews; perfect for thickening smoothies, smoothie bowls, porridges or other hot cereals.

But how does it taste with coffee?  The cream of the crop, literally, coconut milk is the thickest and creamiest non-dairy milk and is great for coffee. A little goes a long way, but the texture is most reminiscent of heavy cream or dairy milk.

Here’s a nutrient breakdown on the most popular choices per 8-ounce serving:

Type Calories Total Fat Saturated Fat Protein Sugar % Calcium % Vitamin D
Whole Milk 150 8 5 8 12 30 25
Nonfat Milk 90 0 0 8 12 30 25
Original Soy 110 4.5 0.5 8 6 45 30
Unsweetened Soy 80 4 0.5 7 1 30 30
Original Almond 60 2.5 0 1 7 45 25
Unsweetened Almond 30 2.5 0 1 0 45 25
Original Rice 120 2.5 0 1 10 30 25
Unsweetened Rice 90 2.5 0 <1 <1 30 25
Original Coconut 70 4.5 4 0 7 10 30
Unsweetened Coconut 45 4.5 4 0 0 10 30
Original Cashew 60 2.5 0 <1 7 45 25
Unsweetened Cashew 25 2 0 <1 0 45 25
 

When it comes to the best type of milk for your body, its a matter of taste preference, nutritional goals, and how your body FEELS after drinking it. If you don’t have any allergies, then all varieties of milk above can be included in a healthy diet.  When purchasing your milk at the store, keep an eye on protein, added sugar and saturated fat. And it’s always a good idea to be mindful that some might be a better choice with certain snacks or meals depending on what else you’re consuming. I hope from the information above helps give you the knowledge you need to fill up your cup with milk that does your body good inside and out. 

What is your favorite type of milk? Have you removed dairy from your diet and seen any benefits? Leave me a comment below and let me know what tastes best to you.

Cheers to you, living a life you love.

Caroline

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