Milk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Nut Milk...Huh?


Have you explored the milk options in the grocery store lately?

It can be quite overwhelming. Besides the standard whole milk, 2%, 1%, skim, and chocolate milk options you now have banana chocolate milk and milk alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and protein nut milk. Having options is great, but is one of these choices better than the others?

The truth is...not really. It all depends on what you like or if have any allergies/intolerance or food preferences. 

For example, I have no allergies or intolerance to dairy so I could drink regular milk or try any other options. The good thing is that they all contain calcium and vitamin D, components to bone health. However, regular milk, chocolate banana, soy, and nut milk have more protein than coconut and almond milk so I am more inclined to chose those options. But that does make option superior, just preferential.

But, if I had a lactose or milk protein issue or was a vegetarian I would choose soy, almond, or protein nut milk. These are perfectly appropriate options. And the good news is that each comes in different flavors and can be used in smoothies or cereals just like regular milk. The chart below can help you see what each option has to offer.  

Now, there are often questions or concerns about sugar in regards to flavored milk and milk alternatives. We know that we should limit added sugars in our diet but I want to point out that nutrient dense products like these are not the same as desserts (cakes, cookies, ice cream) or sweetened beverages. Besides, we know that desserts should be limited anyway. A balanced, varied, moderate diet has room for added sugars from more nutrient-dense products like sweetened milk/milk alternative. 

In the end, diet is about the big picture. No matter if you are drinking milk or a milk alternative it is more important that you include them in a balanced, varied, and moderate diet. I drink milk, but I mix in other products just for variety. If I didn't how would I know what I like or not. Also, the banana chocolate milk is awesome! 

-Nick Fischer, RD, LDN

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