For some, the issue is how much. For others, the issue is what kind. Navigating the menu of milk alternatives can be tricky. There are all kinds of options for people with dietary restrictions, vegan diets, milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or for those who simply don’t care for the taste of cow’s milk.
Some contain lactose but are high in calcium; others are lower in protein but free of saturated fats. Before pouring your next glass, evaluate your options.
The basics: Pasteurization of whole, low-fat and fat-free milk kills harmful bacteria. Organic versions come from cows that eat organic feed and are not treated with synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics.
What it delivers: Rich in vital calcium, protein, potassium and vitamin D. Keeps bones strong. Potential benefits include lower blood pressure and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease.
Don't forget: Avoid saturated fats by choosing fat-free, skim or low-fat versions.
The basics: Soy milk is made from soybean extractions and water.
What it delivers: Lactose-free, free of saturated fat and rich in calcium and protein.
Don't forget: Flavored versions are higher in sugar and lower in protein.
The basics: Rice milk comes from partially milled, unsweetened rice and water.
What it delivers: Lactose-free, cholesterol-free and free of saturated fat. Potential links to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.
Don't forget: Lower in calcium and protein than other milk alternatives. Look for calcium-fortified versions. High in carbohydrates, so not appropriate for all.
The basics: Almond milk is created from ground almonds and water. Often enriched with nutrients and antioxidants.
What it delivers: Lactose-free, cholesterol-free and free of saturated fat. High in antioxidant-rich vitamin E.
Don't forget: Low in protein. Flavored versions can be high in sugar.
The basics: Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut.
What it delivers: Dairy and gluten-free. Rich in Vitamin D, B12 and magnesium. Great as an ingredient in smoothies or used to sweeten coffee.
Don't forget: Like coconut meat, the milk is high in saturated fat; it packs nearly a third of the daily limit for women.