What comes to mind when you think of the easiest way to get Calcium and Vitamin D? …Most of us would respond with MILK! However there’s more to the milk and dairy aisle than just Moo’s these days. Almonds, soy, cashews, coconut, rice, and quinoa, are a few of the new stars filling the dairy shelves. Let’s compare and contrast the nutritional value of a glass of cow’s milk and a few different milk alternatives to see if cows aren’t the only thing capable of being…ahem… “milked” for nutrients.
Cow’s Milk. 1 glass of low fat cow’s milk contains about 100 calories, 8.2 grams of protein, 2.4 grams of fat, and over 30% of the recommended daily value for Calcium.
|MILK ALTERNATIVE||NUTRITIONAL CONTENT||PROS||CONS||FUN FOOD TIP|
|Almond Milk||A glass of unsweetened can have between 30-50 calories, about 1 gram of protein, 2 to 2.5 grams of fat, and 30-45% of the recommendations for Calcium.||Made from whole, ground almonds, it’s naturally lower in calories compared to cow’s milk. Less calories can be a good thing if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s also fortified with Vitamin E, Vitamin A and D, nutrients important for eye, bone, and muscle health.||Almond milk lacks the higher protein content compared to milk, and some brands can contain high amounts of sugar. Look for an ‘unsweetened’ brand, or one with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.||Blend into your favorite morning berry smoothie.|
|Soy Milk||Low fat, plain soy milk contains between 60 to 90 calories per cup, 4 to 6 grams of protein, 1.5 to 2 grams of fat, and 20-45% of the recommended intake for Calcium.||It’s made from ground soybeans, a high quality protein. Most brands are fortified with B-Vitamins, Calcium, and Vitamin D, making it the closest nutritional profile to cow’s milk.||Sweetened versions can contain up to, or even more than 8 grams of sugar per glass. Most soybeans are grown from genetically modified seeds. Look for a brand with the USDA organic seal, or non-GMO label.
|A splash of soy milk is a fun swap for coffee creamer in your afternoon pick-me up.|
|Coconut Milk||Tropical coconut milk contains 40 to 80 calories, 0 grams of protein, 4.5 to 5 grams of fat, and 30-45% of the recommended daily value for Calcium.||What comes in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, is not the same as what’s in a can. It’s a watered down version of coconut “cream”. This means the fat content is not as high, and the consistency is similar to cow’s milk. Some brands fortify with Vitamin B-12.||Zero protein, means it’s not the best drink for building muscle. The tropical flavor is not ideal for baking or cooking, unless it’s a fruity dish.
|Mixed with chia seeds, and set overnight, it’s the perfect ‘no-guilt’ pudding treat!|
Glass for glass, milk alternatives don’t contain lactose, a naturally occurring sugar found in cow’s milk which makes it the drink of choice for those with lactose allergy or intolerance. It’s also a great addition to a well-balanced diet for those who are vegan. Vegan, vegetarian, or someone who just wants to mix up your dairy intake, a glass of milk alternative can be a fun way to pour in some extra nutrients!
(*The nutrient content of cow’s milk and milk alternatives is based off of an 8oz serving, and may vary slightly depending on the brand.)