When you go to the dairy aisle at the store, you have plenty of “milk” options to choose from. The most popular kind of milk is cow’s milk. You will also see plenty of other kinds of “milks” that are plant based. What I am talking about is cashew, soy, almond and coconut milk. So which one of these milks is the most nutritious? What are the pros and cons of each?
Cow’s milk, is not the only the most popular kind of milk but it is also the most nutritious type. If you can’t stomach cow’s milk you can always go for goat’s milk which is just as nutritious. A typical serving of cow’s milk contains eight grams of protein which is essential to good health, especially for developing bodies. It is also rich in calcium, as you may have recalled from health class or got milk ads.
The milk from cows also contains a lot of nutrients and minerals such as potassium and vitamins B12. Nutritional experts recommend that children drink cow’s or goat’s milk unless they cannot drink animal based milk at all. The calcium found in milk is also easily absorbed. Substances like lactose and the other minerals and nutrients present in cow’s milk help the body to better process and absorb the nutrients.
Plant based milks, such as those made from soybeans, almonds and cashews are the milk of choice for some vegans. Their downside is that they lack the calcium found in natural cow’s milk. Many of the plant based milks also have very little protein, which is crucial for good health. Soy milk though, does have a good amount of protein, that is comparable to the amount found in cow’s milk.
To makeup for the low to almost no calcium levels in the plant based milks, food manufactures add calcium in the form of calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate. Some plant milk brands even add protein from rice or peas to boost its protein content. The artificial calcium used to increase the calcium content is not as readily absorbed as that found in cow’s milk.
You should also be aware that most of the nutrients found in nuts is lost when they are processed to create a milk. Consumers should also take a close look at the label to watch out for ingredients such as sugar and other additives that may make a nut or soy milk taste better but add unnecessary calories.