Plant-based milks are becoming more and more the popular choice among the health-conscious these days. But it's more than just a trend: Non-dairy milks really are a better choice than regular dairy milk. Aside from being cruelty-free (yay, animals!) and free from cholesterol (double hooray for our heart health!), there are other plus points: They actually are cheaper to produce than dairy, are easier on our digestive tract, and provide way more nutrients, too.
Here are some non-dairy milk choices you should know about (some of which we're bringing to you through our Raw Bites Box, yay!)
1. Soy Milk
It's probably the first non-dairy milk we all knew about, and thanks to the modern health initiative, soy milk is now made using fair trade, non-GMO practices. Each cup of soy milk provides about 6 grams of and 45 percent our daily value of calcium, and has a rich, unique flavor. It also comes in a variety of flavors these days, making it an accessible substitute for dairy milk. Just make sure you only go for organic brands. (Caution should be taken for those with irritable bowel syndrome, though, as soy milk can cause bloating.)
2. Almond Milk
The second most popular non-dairy milk next to soy is the ever-loved almond milk. It's got fewer calories per serving than soy milk, has zero saturated fat or cholesterol. In terms of nutrients, a cup of almond milk contains 25 percent daily value for vitamin D (which boosts immunity), and almost 50 percent for vitamin E (which boosts anti-aging). It isn't particularly high in protein, though, so if you decide to use almond milk as your regular milk, be sure you get enough protein from other sources.
3. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a staple in Philippine cooking, and is made from the grated "meat" of the "nyug" (brown coconut). It is a rich source of iron, fiber and is lactose-free. However, it has a high saturated fat content, making it higher in calories than cow’s milk, so don't use it often as it can pack on the pounds and inches, if not taken in moderation.
4. Rice Milk
While it is the most affordable of the non-dairy milks, it also has the least nutrients: Just 1 gram of protein and a 2 percent daily value of calcium. It's a suitable milk alternative for people with allergies to dairy, soy and other nuts. It is not an effective thickener, so you might not be able to use it in recipes unlike the three previous milks. However, it makes for a pleasant drink. Just make sure you don't make it your complete milk replacement.
5. Cashew Milk
Taken unsweetened, a cup of cashew milk has just 25 calories, and only 1g of protein. It is completely sugar-free naturally, so it won't send your blood sugar on a rise. Plus point: It contains 50 percent recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E, making it excellent for the skin. Taste-wise, it has one of the best, creamy and rich flavors, making it a great accompaniment to whole grains, oatmeal, and cereal. Just make sure if you choose this milk that you get protein from other sources.
* Always consult your doctor first before taking nut milks, especially if you have a history of allergic reactions.