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Healthiest Vegan Milk Choices

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 2, 2021

Vegan milk is slowly gaining popularity. It is the high nutrition, eco-friendly alternative to cow's milk. Cow's milk is high in nutrition. It has been the primary source of dairy for centuries. Even though cow's milk is extremely healthy, it does not suit everyone. Some people are lactose intolerant. They can't consume any dairy-based products.

Some people experience internal inflammation after consuming dairy. They also experience adverse allergic reactions. Another reason why people are opting for plant-based milk is calories. Several vegan milk products contain far fewer calories than cow's milk. While some are high in proteins, others are high in vitamins.

Vegans prefer plant-based milk because it is cruelty-free. In addition, products such as almond milk and cashew milk are made from nuts.

Let's take a look at the healthiest vegan milk choices.

#1 Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of the best vegan milk options available in the market. It is made by mixing ground almonds with water. Although it has been around for years, it has only recently gained popularity. You can have it with cereal or on its own.

Either way, it is an excellent substitute for cow's milk.

You can either buy it from a store or make it at home. Almond milk is slightly sweet and has a light texture. You can add it to your coffee or mix it with a smoothie. Almond milk is low in calories, carbohydrates, and fats.

Advantages

  • Almond milk is filled with nutrients. It contains vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, fiber, and iron. It has additional calcium that companies add to the milk. It makes almond milk's calcium content higher than cow's milk. 
  • Almond milk is naturally low in calories. It contains 3 grams of fat per serving. 
  • It is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are suitable for weight management. 
  • Among all-vegan milk options, almond milk contains the highest amount of calcium. 
  • Almond milk does not contain any animal by-products. It is an animal-friendly vegan product.

Disadvantages

  • Almond milk contains meager amounts of proteins. In comparison to cow's milk, almond milk is highly protein deficient. It only has 1 gram of protein per serving. 
  • But if you are prone to a nut allergy, then almond milk is not for you. 
  • Almond milk does not have sufficient nutrients, which is why it is not recommended for infants.

#2 Rice Milk

If you don't like milk made out of nuts, then Rice Milk is for you. It has a light texture. Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic vegan milk option on the market. It has a mild, sweet taste.

You can add it to a bowl of cereal or use it to make a smoothie.

Rice milk also works well with tea or coffee.

Advantages

  • Rice Milk has a high amount of carbohydrates, which is excellent for energy.
  • It is ideal for people who suffer from allergies and other intolerances
  • In comparison to other vegan milk options, rice milk contains fewer amounts of calories.
  • One cup of rice milk contains 1 gram of protein.
  • Since it is naturally sweet, you don't need to use sugar with it.

Disadvantages

  • Rice milk is low in protein, fat, and other essential nutrients 
  • Due to its light texture, rice milk is not ideal for cooking.
  • It is not suitable for infants, older adults, and athletes.

#3 Soy Milk

Soy milk is a legume-based product. It is either made out of soy protein isolate or soybeans. Manufacturers add vegetable oil and thickeners to the milk. Soy milk has a subtle flavor and a creamy texture.

It is the only plant-based product that produces the same amount of protein as cow's milk. Protein is a vital nutrient. It has 3 grams of protein per 100 ml. You can use it for cooking or baking.

You can also consume it directly. Soy milk comes in different flavors, such as banana, chocolate, and vanilla.

Advantages

  • Soy milk is the only milk that matches the protein content of cow's milk. Experts believe that Soy milk is as good as cow's milk. 
  • Soy Milk has vitamins like B12, B2, A, and D added to the milk. 
  • It is readily available in supermarkets. Different brands have different flavors. There are 80-90 calories in one cup of unsweetened soy milk. It also has 4-405 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Soy milk contains 7-9 grams of protein per serving.
  • Out of all the plant-based milk products, soy milk is the least processed. Soy milk is high in protein and low in saturated fats. 

Disadvantages

  • Even though soy milk has so many nutritional properties, it has become a controversial food item. People around the globe are often worried about the effects of soy milk. 
  • Soy contains large amounts of isoflavones. Isoflavones adversely affect the estrogen receptors in the body. It causes a significant imbalance in the hormonal system. 
  • FODMAP intolerant people should not consume soy milk. Naturally produced short-chain carbohydrates are known as FODMAPs. People who want to go on a low FODMAP diet should also avoid soy milk. FODMAP can cause bloating and other digestive issues. 
  • The high levels of phytic acid in soy milk can adversely affect your gut health. It reduces the absorption of magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. 

#4 Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the second-best option. However, the number of calories in coconut milk is relatively high.

Therefore, some people prefer to add it to food while others like to drink it. Coconut milk is made from the white flesh of brown coconuts.

The white flesh is mixed with water, which creates thick coconut milk.

The thick coconut milk is used for cooking, while the thin one is used for direct consumption.

Even though coconut milk is delicious, it lacks sufficient nutrients.

Advantages

  • Coconut has a thick and creamy texture. It makes it easy to use while cooking. 
  • It is also great for people who enjoy a cup of creamy milk. 
  • Coconut milk is made up of medium-chain triglycerides. 
  • It also has some amounts of potassium. 
  • Coconut milk helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. 

Disadvantages

  • Coconut milk has less amount of protein. Proteins are essential for muscle building and other bodily functions. They play a significant part in keeping your body nourished. Lack of protein reduces the nutritional value of a product. 
  • Canned coconut milk has 1 gram of protein per serving, whereas boxed coconut milk has none. 
  • It is high in saturated fats. Even though they are healthy fats, they need to be taken in moderation. It is better to look for unsweetened options that contain fewer calories. 

#5 Cashew Milk

Cashew milk has a rich and creamy texture. It tastes sweet and mildly nutty. One cup of cashew milk contains 25-50 calories. Since it is a low-carb milk option, you can use it for weight management. You can purchase it from a supermarket or make it at home.

Advantages

  • Cashew milk is great for thickening smoothies. It can also be used as a substitute for creamers in coffee.
  • It contains fewer calories than cow's milk.
  • It is a great low-calorie vegan milk option.
  • Cashew milk is suitable for people trying to lose weight.

Disadvantages

  • The nut pulp is not added to the milk. It causes the milk to lose its nutrients. 
  • Cashew milk is low on minerals, vitamins, protein, and fiber.
  • There are better high-protein vegan milk options in the market.

#6 Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is produced from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is made by mixing water with soaked hemp seeds. Hemp milk contains a large number of nutrients but is not as healthy as cow's milk.

Hemp milk has a nutty taste and is mildly sweet.

Hemp milk has a thin texture and is rich in calcium and magnesium.

You can use it to make soups and sauces. It also tastes great by itself or with a bowl of cereal.

Hemp milk is one of the best allergen-free milk options on the market.

Advantages

  • Hemp milk contains alpha-linolenic acid. You can get about 50% of this acid from hemp milk. It also contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Hemp Milk is rich in proteins. It has as much as 2 grams of protein per serving. 
  • It is rich in vitamin D, calcium, vitamin A, magnesium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and phosphorus. One serving of unsweetened hemp milk contains 60-80 calories. It also has 0-1 gram of carbohydrates, 4.5-8 grams of fat, and 2-3 grams of protein. 
  • It contains low amounts of fats and high amounts of protein. 
  • Along with high amounts of proteins, hemp milk also contains essential amino acids. 

Disadvantages

  • Soy milk has large amounts of proteins and amino acids but very little calcium. 
  • Some brands add calcium to their hemp milk products, but that is not always enough. 
  • Tofu and dark leafy vegetables are excellent sources of calcium.
  • Hemp milk is far more expensive than any other vegan milk.

#7 Macadamia Milk

Macadamia milk is the latest vegan milk option available in the market. It is made out of water and macadamia nuts. Macadamia milk has a smooth and creamy texture. It is heavier than most vegan milk options.

Most companies make macadamia milk using Australian macadamia nuts.

A single cup of macadamia milk contains 50-55 calories. 240 ml of macadamia milk contains 4.5-grams of fats, 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 1-5 grams of protein.

Advantages

  • Macadamia milk has a very low carb content.
  • It tastes great on its own. You can also add it to your cereal, tea, or coffee.
  • People who are looking to reduce their calorie intake should opt for macadamia milk.
  • It is an excellent source of healthy fats. One cup contains 3.8 grams of monounsaturated fats.

Disadvantages

  • Macadamia milk contains meager amounts of proteins
  • It is not as nutritional as other vegan milk options on the market.

#8 Quinoa Milk

Quinoa is a nutritious whole grain. It is a superfood that has recently gained a lot of popularity amongst fitness enthusiasts. Quinoa milk is sweet and has a slightly nutty taste. It has a distinctive flavor of Quinoa. You can use it in a warm porridge or with oats. However, it doesn't taste very good with cereal or other beverages.

Advantages

  • Quinoa Milk is gluten-free.
  • It has low amounts of fats, which makes it an excellent option for weight loss.
  • It has fewer calories than cow's milk.
  • Quinoa milk is a great plant-based source of complete proteins.
  • Moderate amounts of protein, fibers, carbohydrates are present in one serving.

Disadvantages

  • Quinoa milk is more expensive than other vegan milk options. 
  • It is harder to find in supermarkets.
  •  This milk contains 5-10% of macadamia nuts. It is very diluted.

#9 Oat Milk

Oat milk is made from a blend of oats and water. It has a mild flavor and is naturally sweet. Some companies add oils, gums, and salt to their products. It helps enhance the flavor. You can use oat milk to make smoothies. Since it is light, oat milk is also great to have with cereal.

Advantages

  • Oat milk is high in fiber and beta-glucan, which is a type of soluble fiber
  • It helps control cholesterol
  • You can keep your gut healthy with oat milk
  • Oat milk helps maintain your heart health

Disadvantages

  • Oat milk has high amounts of calories and carbohydrates
  • It is not the best option for weight loss
  • This milk contains very low amounts of protein.

#10 Flax Milk

Flax milk has a delicious taste and a creamy texture. It is made by blending water and flax seeds. Most companies use non-GMO flax in their flax milk. It is a great gluten-free option. Since flax is a seed, this milk is considered nut-free. If you are allergic to nuts, flax milk is the best option for you.

Advantages

  • Flax Milk contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, called Alpha Linoleic Acid.
  • It helps reduce inflammation in the body.
  • People suffering from skin diseases or autoimmune diseases can opt for flax milk.
  • It is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Disadvantages

  • Flax milk is not ideal for cooking
  • It can cause constipation

Conclusion

These are a few of the healthiest vegan milk choices available in the market. If you are vegan or are planning to go on a plant-based diet, then these milk options are perfect for you. Vegan milk helps you keep your calories in check. If you are looking to lose weight, then soy milk is excellent for you.

If you like to add thickness and structure to your soups, coconut milk is the best option. You should compare and consider all the nutritional benefits of plant-based milk. Avoid picking an option solely based on taste.

Yes, the taste is essential, but so is your health. High amounts of nutrition keep your body healthy! The primary function of food is to provide you with the proper nutrients. So make sure to choose the healthiest vegan milk option!

References

https://vegandietsociety.com/nutrition/13-best-vegan-milk-alternatives-to-dairy-milk


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