Our Top 5 Natural Alternatives To Dairy Milk
We’ve been told that a glass of milk is the only thing that can help ensure strong bones and teeth. While this is true due to its calcium content, dairy milk can have its downside. As a result, some individuals are unable to consume it, which raises the question: for which alternatives should you opt if this is you?
Why are people avoiding dairy milk?
- It can be hard to digest
Individuals who are lactose intolerant have a hard time digesting dairy because their bodies no longer produce the dairy-digesting enzyme, lactase.
- Milk allergies
While used interchangeably with the term lactose intolerant, a milk allergy stems from the body’s immune response to certain milk proteins. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, swelling of the lips, runny nose and wheezing.
- The use of hormones and antibiotics
The injection of antibiotics and growth hormones in animals is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The growth hormones are injected into the cows so that they can produce larger quantities of milk, whereas the antibiotics are used to help treat any infections.
Traces of the hormones and antibiotics can end up in the milk and by us consuming said milk, we’re not only increasing our risk of antibiotic resistance but also possible endocrine health problems.
Inflammation is at the core of most chronic diseases thus if one is prone to inflammation- it would be advisable to avoid any pro-inflammatory foods, such as dairy milk. If your inflammation is becoming a problem, click here to read about our favourite anti-inflammatory foods.
What about the calcium?
Granted, dairy milk is the best source of calcium for a lot of us, but there are other good sources. Aside from the milk alternatives listed below, calcium can also be found in a number of foods that include figs, spinach, oranges and seeds.
So, whether your staying clear of hormones, inflammation or lactase, read on for our favourite dairy milk alternatives.
1. Almond milk
The go-to choice for vegans and the lactose intolerant, almond milk is made from ground almonds, water and, in some cases, a sweetener. It can be added to cereals and teas.
While almonds are nutritional powerhouse being rich in vitamin E, fatty acids, selenium, fibre and calcium, almond milk does not contain the same amount of nutrients as the nuts. As a result, it is often supplemented with calcium and other nutrients thus it’s best to opt for fortified almond milk. However, despite the supplementation, almond milk contains far less less protein than dairy milk.
2. Coconut milk
If you’re a fan of the creamy texture that come with dairy milk, then coconut milk would be your perfect dairy milk substitute. While it’s free of soy and gluten as well as a good source of potassium, iron and magnesium, coconut milk is also relatively high in fat. Due to its high fat content, it’s advisable to practice portion control when it comes to consuming coconut milk.
3. Hemp milk
Yes, hemp seed comes from the hemp seeds of the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, that us used to make the cannabis (marijuana). However, unlike marijuana, hemp seeds only contain small traces of the mind-altering chemical THC.
Made from ground hemp seeds, water and sweeteners, hemp milk is perfect for those who are trying to stay clear of soy as well as increase their iron levels. An iron deficiency can cause a plethora of health problems and hemp milk contains more iron than dairy milk. It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart and brain health.
However, hemp milk is also low in calcium, unless fortified, so if you opt for this version, ensure you take your calcium intake up a notch.
4. Rice Milk
Rice milk is free of soy, lactose and gluten and it’s made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. It also contains vitamins E and D, both of which are important for overall health. However, this thin and watery dairy alternative is not only low in protein, but it’s also high in carbohydrates. Therefore it’s important to be watch your intake.
5. Oat milk
This one is on our list because of its eco-factor and how easily you can make it at home, using ingredients that are likely already in your cupboard. Pegged against almonds, oats need about six times less water to grow, according to one report by The Independent. It has a distinct nutty taste, while baristas love its ability to foam on a cappuccino. Once again, it’s low in both calcium and protein, while being higher in carbohydrates, so ensure you opt for the fortified type.
In choosing your milk alternative, be sure that you’re incorporating it into a healthy and balanced diet.