Alternatives to Cow’s milk

Dear Nutri Affairs followers,

It’s Tuesday night and it is nearly the end of January 2015. I am feeling rather happy to end the January blues and start afresh in February, although content with what has been achieved this month. Do you have new goals or aspirations for the year and did not get round to starting them?Go ahead, whether it is to be more organised, spend less time on your phone but with the ones surrounding you, become fitter and work out at least twice a week, sleep more or try out new categories of food !

Alternatives to cow’s milk

We have such a wide range of options of dairy-free milks, especially in the UK. Here is a quick summary of what some of these may bring you, and you may find that overall you feel better or digest them better. They are also ideal for those intolerant to dairy or lactose(sugars found in dairy).

I used to be a huge fan of cow’s milk, from copious amounts in tea to yoghurts, day in and out. Since learning about other types milks and their nutrient content, I have welcomed those with open arms.

Hemp milk:

produced from ‘superfood’ Hemp seeds and is perfectly legal! Dairy free/soya free/lactose free

High in omega 3’s (provides you with 50% of your daily allowance); high in essential amino acids so therefore high in protein, good for hormone imbalances, inflammatory conditions, cholesterol free, low in saturated fat and calories. Keep your heart healthy with hemp milk !

It has a creamy and nutty taste, suitable for vegans, vegetarians and children.

Coconut milk:

Wonderful for the skin, creamy and delicious in taste, High in omega 3’s, provides the same amount of calcium  as 250ml of semi-skimmed milk. It contains, calcium, manganese, selenium, zinc and iron.Anti-microbial, hence a powerful flu-fighter !Anti-inflammatory compared to cow’s milk and low in calories. Add in smoothies, bakes, oats, soups etc. More information about the benefits of coconuts in my article ‘facts I love about coconuts’

Rice milk

Made from rice grains, it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.If chosen, just be aware it is high in carbohydrates, calories and sugars (not suitable for diabetics).However it is low in protein and in calcium. It is cholesterol free and has no saturated fat .It can be a good alternative to dairy (just like coconut, oat, hemp) especially if you have soy/nut allergies or lactose/casein intolerances It is good for the heart, with its content of niacin, magnesium and  vitamin B6. Opt for the most plain version if you do like it. Texture wise, rice milk can be quite gritty.

Oat milk

Nutritious as they are made from oats. High in complex carbohydrates with soluble and insoluble fibres so kind to the digestive system.High in folic acid, essential for us to produce red blood cells and repair. High in vitamins (B1, B6, E) and minerals (magnesium amongst others) and phytochemicals, compounds naturally present in plants, and provides them with their distinctive flavours, colours,odours and textures. Low in saturated fat, gluten free, lactose free. Oats contain beta-glucans which lower cholesterol and help to promote steady blood glucose levels.

Almond milk:

Besides coconut milk, this is another favourite of mine. Made from ground almonds, low  in calories and protein. It contains potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. It has similar calcium levels to dairy milk,providing us with 30 % of our recommended daily allowance.Almonds are a high source of vitamin A and E, powerful antioxidants thus protecting our body’s cells and tissues from damage.  High in vitamin D, providing you with 25 % of your recommended daily allowance,.Wonderful for  healthy eye sight and skin, it has immune enhancing properties and is also anti-ageing!

Soy milk

Made from soy beans, adequate for vegans and vegetarians, but some may found soy to be an allergen that does not agree with their body

Care should be taken as ‘soy’ contains phytoestrogens (which are a form of plant based hormones). If consuming in small amounts, opt for the wholebean organic ,soy milk and not the highly processed versions as then you would have no benefit of consuming soy milk. High in protein, calcium, low in calories and sugar. Most available option when out and about in the UK.

If you have always believed  Cow’s milk as being your main source of Calcium, then I’d like to point out that  green vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts,chicory, kale, spinach etc)  have a 40 to 65 % absorption capacity of calcium compared to cow’s milk which ranges at about 30 %.Other sources of calcium include, small fish (especially with their bones),nuts and seeds, dried fruits, pulses and wholegrains. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, and you can do so through nutrition or supplements especially during the winter months. Seek advice from a qualified professional when it comes to supplements !

Latest research show that today’s cow’s milk is not the best choice with regards to it’s quality, and effects on certain health conditions. This is another blog to be written on its own !

If choosing alternatives, always try to opt for the unsweetened, plain  and/or an organic version .If the labels contain words that you cannot pronounce, put it back on the shelf ! Some of the thickeners that may be added  to these dairy free milks include tapioca or carrageenan. Stay away from those when you can.

Have a lovely day

xxx isabelle