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A guide to milk alternatives

October 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
With milk allergies and lactose intolerance a big part of our culture, it is good to know there are other milks on the market that are just as healthy and tasty, yet very different. The milks are not nutritionally equal to cow's milk, which offers a good balance of protein and carbohydrates. However, most other milks are fortified with various nutrients. Each one also contains naturally occurring health benefits.

Soy milk has grown in popularity because it offers a thicker, creamier taste than skim. Since this milk is made from cooked, strained soy beans, there are B vitamins, a host of minerals, and beneficial plant chemicals called isoflavones, and fiber.

While brands vary in fortification and calories, most soymilks offer as much calcium and vitamin D as a serving of cow's milk.

Nut milks are made from ground almonds, or even hazelnuts. Nut milks provide little protein, but deliver a nice source of vitamin E and minerals like magnesium and copper. In addition, the fat in the nut milk is heart-healthy.

Almond Breeze was the lowest-calorie beverage we found at 40 calories per serving and contained no sugar.

Rice milk is great for those with food allergies and is low in fat. Rice milk is usually made from brown rice, yet has no fiber. This type of milk resembles skim milk in its thin consistency and it has a slightly sweet taste.

Rice milk contains a bit more calories than the other options, weighing in at 130 calories per cup. Oat milk carries a similar calorie count as rice milk.

Those choosing oat milk might think this beverage is worth the extra calories due to its two grams of fiber and a nice dose of calcium and vitamin D. In addition, it also offers 10 percent of the iron requirement per day.

Finally, those looking for a new non-dairy beverage might get a kick out of hemp milk. Hemp is similar to flax in that it contains omega-3 and other unsaturated fats. It has a slightly nutty taste, but does not have any psychotropic compounds. So, the only "high" you might experience is the taste itself.

The skinny on alternative milks:

Westsoy Plus Soy Milk
Calories: 90
Fat: 3.5g
Sugar: 6g
Calcium: 30 percent
Vitamin D: 25 percent
Iron: 10 percent

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze
Calories: 40
Fat: 3g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 0
Calcium: 20 percent
Vitamin D: 25 percent
Vitamin E: 50 percent

Pacific Hazelnut Beverage
Calories: 110
Fat: 3.5g
Fiber: 1g
Calcium: 30 percent
Vitamin D: 25 percent
Vitamin E: 10 percent

Trader Joe's Rice Milk
Calories: 130
Fat: 2.4 g
Calcium: 30 percent
Vitamin D: 25 percent

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Bliss
Calories: 110
Fat: 7 g
Sugar: 6 g
Iron: 10 percent

Pacific Oat Milk
Calories: 130
Fat: 2.5 g
Fiber: 2 g
Calcium: 30 percent
Vitamin D: 25 percent
Iron: 10 percent


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