How Does Your Glass of Milk Stack Up?
Today’s milk drinker is faced with many choices. Whether you go dairy or dairy-free, find out which milk satisfies both your taste preferences and the health benefits you’re looking for. Here’s the skinny on cow’s milk and some of the many popular alternatives: soy, almond, rice and coconut.
Hands down Americans drink dairy milk than any other type—in fact, we consume 583 million cups annually (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2008). Cow’s milk is a good source of protein and it’s naturally high in calcium with 300 mg per cup*. It is fortified with vitamin D necessary to absorb this calcium. Choose nonfat, ½% or 1% milk for the heart healthy options.
Nonfat/Skim Milk by the Cup:
- Calories: 90
- Total Fat: 0 g (0 g saturated fat)
- Carbs: 12 g
- Protein: 8 g
* Note that milk alternatives from plant sources may contain some natural calcium, but it is not well absorbed. Be sure to choose the ones that say fortified with calcium and vitamin D to get the bone-building benefits.
This popular milk substitute comes in different flavors like vanilla, chocolate and plain. It works well for dairy-free cooking and baking, and there is a lighter option that is fat free and contains fewer calories than the original. Soy milk offers a comparable amount of protein to cow’s milk and has virtually no saturated fat.
Soy Milk by the Cup:
- Calories: 100
- Total Fat: 4 g (.5 g saturated fat)
- Carbs: 8 g
- Protein: 7 g
Almond milk is gaining in popularity. It’s an attractive option for people with allergies to dairy, soy or rice. It is not suitable if you have a nut allergy. It has a nutty flavor and comes in different flavors. You can add it to your morning coffee or in baked goods. Almond milk offers the least amount of calories compared to the other beverages, however it is very skimpy in protein with only one gram per cup.
Almond Milk by the Cup:
- Calories: 60
- Total Fat 2.5 g (0 g saturated fat)
- Carbs: 8 g
- Protein: 1 g
Rice milk is a dairy-free rice beverage that’s not particularly allergenic. You can find it in plain or vanilla flavors. It has a more watery texture so you may not want to use it in cooking. For the carb-conscious, beware of the 25 grams of carbs per glass—nearly double compared to cow’s milk. It also ranks low in protein with less than ½ gram per cup.
Rice Milk by the Cup:
- Calories: 120
- Total Fat: 2 g (0 g saturated fat)
- Carbs: 25 g
- Protein: .4 g
A rich and creamy milk replacement, coconut milk is low in carbs and provides some protein. For those of us who are watching our waistline and cholesterol numbers, one cup contains a whopping 467 calories and more than two days worth or “bad” saturated fat!
Coconut Milk by the Cup:
- Calories: 467
- Total Fat: 51 g (45 g saturated fat)
- Carbs: 6.6 g
- Protein: 4.8 g
Do you have a favorite milk?