Are Dairy-Free Milk Substitutes Better For Our Health And Environment?

Almond

Almond milk is highly nutritious which if enriched with Calcium, Vitamin D and protein can have the same benefits as cows milk.

How it’s Made 

Firstly the almonds are soaked in an excess of water. A milky white liquid is obtained after filtering the almond, it’s usually pasteurised for greater stability and shelf life when commercially sold.

To have a go at making at home try here

 https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-almond-milk/

Pros 

  • Low in calories as watered down
  • Low sugar content
  • High in Vitamin E
  • Lactose-Free
  • Versatile
  • Requires less farmland to produce
  • Suitable for Vegans

Cons

  • Responsible for the death of Bees due to pesticides used on farms
  • Needs at least 74 litres of water
  • Not suitable for people with Nut allergies

Hazelnut

Hazelnut milk has lots of great health benefits, a well-known one is being an antioxidant which is what helps limit the amount of free radical damage our bodies go through.

How it’s made

Hazelnuts are often toasted after their shells are removed, soaked in water, crushed into a paste and blended with water.

Easy to make yourself

https://www.abeautifulplate.com/homemade-hazelnut-milk/

Pros

  • Rich in essential fatty acids
  • A good source of vitamins A, E and B
  • Lactose-free 
  • Great for pregnant women as rich in folate
  • Reduced greenhouse emissions as pollinated by the wind

Cons

  • Many store brands add additives to thicken which can cause digestion problems
  • Not suitable for people with nut allergies 

Coconut

Coconut is becoming more and more popular and is a great alternative to cows milk. Its rich creamy consistency makes it great for desserts. It’s quite high in calories and low in protein so probably best not to use as a main milk source.

How it’s made

The coconut flesh is grated and soaked in hot water. The coconut cream rises to the surface, it then gets squeezed through a cheesecloth to extract the milk.

Why not make your own at home in 10 mins 

https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-coconut-milk/

 

Pros

  • Contains lauric acid which is said to support the immune system
  • Rich in electrolytes that can help reduce fatigue
  • Very rich in Potassium, Magnesium and Phosphorus
  • Full of fibre helping to keep you full for longer which is great if trying to lose weight
  • lactose-free

Cons

  • High in saturated fat
  • Leaves a large carbon footprint due to the fact coconuts are grown in hot climates and have to travel further to be on our shelves
  • Can cause allergies or digestive problems 
  • Very low in protein

Hemp

Hemp milk is definitely becoming the popular milk choice these days with its high protein content, nutty flavour and versatility. Hemp is classed as a complete protein which means our bodies can digest it really well and we get all 9 essential amino acids needed for our bodies to function.

How it’s made

Hemp seeds get blended along with water, sometimes strained through cheesecloth for a smoother texture to produce the milk.

Another great recipe 

https://downshiftology.com/recipes/hemp-milk/

Pros

  • High in fatty acids omega 3 and 6 essential for brain function and skin health
  • High levels of the minerals Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc
  • The highest protein content of all cow’s milk substitutes
  • Easy to produce 
  • Soy, Lactose and gluten-free meaning suitable for nearly everyone

Cons

  • Fortified with Calcium to give it health benefits similar to cow’s milk
  • Quite a strong flavour, not all pallets may like
  • Can be quite expensive compared to other free from milk
  • High in sugar depending on the brand 
  • Additives are usually added

Soy

Soya milk has been around longer than many of the other kinds of milk we see today. Its been the most popular choice for Vegans and Vegetarians since the 1950s.

How it’s Made

By soaking and grinding soybeans with water, it then gets boiled and filtered.

2 ingredient recipe to try 

https://simpleveganblog.com/homemade-soy-milk/

Pros

  • Can reduce cholesterol levels
  • Low in saturated fat
  • High protein content similar to cow’s milk
  • Contain 8 amino acids
  • Efficient Calcium and Iron levels

Cons

  • Not suitable for anyone with a soy allergy
  • If used excessively it can raise estrogen levels in men

 read this article 

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19539170/soys-negative-effects/

  • Can contain genetically modified substances depending on the brand
  • Some brands add thickeners and preservatives

Rice

Rice milk is another great alternative to cow’s milk and the third most popular dairy-free milk on the market.

How it’s made

The rice is soaked in water, blended, and finally drained in order to extract the liquid.

Can be made at home follow this link

  https://happyherbivore.com/2011/08/what-is-rice-milk-rice-milk-recipe/

Pros

  • Contains a good amount of nutrients directly from the grain
  • Low in fat and may reduce cholesterol
  • A great alternative for vegans and people with nut allergies
  • Easy to make at home
  • If fortified can contain the minerals Vitamin D, Magnesium and Iron

Cons

  • Not suitable for diabetics due to its high carbohydrate levels
  • Should be limited in infants and children due to its inorganic arsenic levels
  • Very low in protein

My Conclusion

Dairy-free milk substitutes are a great alternative to cow’s milk and nowadays there are so many different ones to chose from, it’s all down to personal taste preference and dietary requirements, however, you should try to stick to unsweetened, Organic and ones fortified with Calcium and B12 to get health benefits similar to cow’s milk.


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