There are many reasons not to consume dairy. First, we are the only species that consumes the milk of another species (you have to admit that’s kind of gross). Second, an estimated 75% of adults experience lactose sensitivity, and third, recent studies have debunked milk’s primary justification as a calcium builder, by proving that milk, ironically enough, supports calcium loss from your bones.
As little as five years ago, soy milk seemed like the only milk alternative regularly available on the market. But as recent studies have identified soy as a common food allergen (much like milk) and linked the dairy alternative to breast cancer-causing isoflavones (very similar to estrogen), other substitute milks, such as almond, coconut, and hemp, have gained popularity.
Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or overall health-conscious, there are plenty of healthy milk alternatives besides soy which you can incorporate into your diet. Below are some of the top-rated milk substitutes to satisfy your creamy cravings.
In addition to being low in calories, carbohydrates, and cholesterol, Almond Milk contains bone-strengthening calcium (30% recommended daily value), immunity-boosting Vitamin D (25%), skin-nourishing Vitamin E (50%), and healthy muscle-repairing B vitamins. Some of the tastiest brands include Trader Joes Original and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, Silk’s Unsweetened Original and Vanilla Almond Milk, and Almond Breeze’s variety of flavors (which even includes unsweetened chocolate!). These beverages are great in cereal, baking recipes, smoothies, protein shakes, and on their own.
With the advent of low-carb and Paleolithic-diets, coconut milk has become a popular dairy substitute. The high levels of manganese in coconut milk can help manage blood sugar, the potassium content is effective in lowering blood pressure, Vitamin C supports the immune system, fiber promotes fullness and weight management, and zinc promotes prostate health when paired with a natural prostate medication, like Prosvent’s all-natural solution. In addition to its numerous health benefits, coconut milk is a bit sturdier than almond milk and holds up better in cooking dishes, especially Thai and Indian, which benefit from its rich flavor. Stick to canned coconut milk, as refrigerated cartons typically have added preservatives. Some of the tastiest brands include Thai Kitchen (rich and creamy), Trader Joe’s 99 cent light variety (wallet conscious), and Native Forest (organic and BPA free).
As hemp milk doesn’t need or use pesticides for growth, it is better for the environment and your health. The beverage is brimming with Omega-3s and Omega-6s, which improve mental capacity while warding off diabetes, bad cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Hemp milk is an excellent vegetarian source of protein, as it’s packed with amino acids for building and repairing lean muscles. Hemp milk is typically boxed and can be found in the dairy substitute aisle of any health food store. Living Harvest’s Tempt Hemp Milk comes in original, vanilla, chocolate, unsweetened original, and unsweetened chocolate and has one of the best texture/flavor combinations on the market. A close second is Pacific Natural Foods, which is a bit more affordable and readily available at Whole Foods around the country.
Remember, all of these milk substitutes are all-natural and can be made at home with a little patience and dedication. Look up different recipes online and try experimenting with different natural sweeteners, like agave and honey! Happy digesting!
About the Author
Lynn Maleh is a graduate of University of Southern California’s Master of Professional Writing program. She regularly blogs on a variety of topics, including health, lifestyle, and eco-living.
*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*