There is a visible growth in the choices for plant based milk, there are so many options in the supermarket – soya, oat, almond, cashew, enriched, no salt, no sugar, chocolate, vanilla, flavour. But which one to buy?
Maybe you already use plant based milk in your diet but want to learn something new about them, or to find out which ones to drink more often and which less often? Or maybe you can't or don't want to drink cow's milk then this article is definitely for you.
What to add to your coffee or morning cereals or oats? Let us guide you through different options and help to find the one you like.
Soya Milk Numerous studies prove that this is one of the healthiest and oldest plant based milks Originally from China, it was brought to Europe and America in the 19th century. It is great for diabetics because it slowly releases sugars, maintaining optimal blood glucose levels. Soya milk contains about 3 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is the most of all the plant milks, at the same time is low with sugar and fat content Soya milk has plant estrogens, but don’t be worry these are milder phyto-estrogens which alleviate menstrual cramps, menopause, and also protects us against cancer. For me, soya milk is also great for coffee (and cappuccino or latte), because it is a bit fatter than, for example oat or rice and it can be foamed. It can also be used for home made mayonnaise, cakes or pancakes. Almond Milk
It's great alternative to soya milk for cakes and coffee because of its delicate, sweet taste. It’s low-fat and low-calorie, it has a high content of vitamin E, thanks to which it slows down the aging processes. The downside is the relatively low protein content. There are a few other benefits. Almonds help lower blood cholesterol. It’s also rich in dietary fiber and is therefore ideal for constipation. In addition, it also reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer. This dairy alternative has reportedly overtaken soya milk as the leading plant milk in recent years. Try in your muffins, cakes, or vegan French Toast. Oat Milk This is the most popular of plant based milks, made from grain, it’s low-fat, but has relatively high carbohydrates and calories. It has small amounts of protein, and therefore has no greater value as a substitute for cow's milk, just be aware that it contains gluten. Thanks to the high fiber content, it strengthens the digestive system and makes you feel full for longer. It has a neutral, slightly bitter taste and is well suited to cakes and desserts, to thicken up your soup or with your protein shake. Rice milk It’s made from fresh grains that have been ground, cooked and then fermented. It has the least pronounced taste compared to other plant milk. It contains low amounts of protein, therefore it is not recommended as one of the basic elements of the diet. It works great in classic oatmeal or overnight oats, as it has a very mild flavor, so it doesn’t interfere with your toppings. Coconut milk
There are two very different kinds of coconut milk. Until recently, the term applied primarily to a thick and fat-rich canned product that’s perfect for making peanut sauce and Thai curries. You can think of canned coconut milk as coconut cream, since it’s far thicker and more fatty than anything that comes from a cow.
Recently, as the market for dairy alternatives has taken off, a non-dairy milk made from coconuts and packaged in traditional milk cartons has also become commonplace. This kind of milk is perfect for cooking needs and for pouring on your morning cereal.
Just be aware that coconut milk is high in saturated fat. The coconut milk ‘pouring type’ contains 4 grams of saturated fat. (Canned coconut milk has 12 grams of saturated fat per cup.) That means nearly all the fat in coconut milk is the saturated type.
It works great as a cream replacement in desserts, you can prepare decadent whipped cream or use it in traditional Thai/Indian currys.
This is one of few plant-based milks to have complete proteins, containing all the essential amino acids, and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (great ratio of omega 3 and 6 acids) Its made out of whole hemp seeds from the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. Although it is the same plant used make marijuana and CBD(cannabidiol)-infused products that are gaining popularity in the wellness marketplace, hemp milk does not induce any of the psychoactive effects of marijuana because it only contains trace amounts of psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Due to its creamy consistency and protein content, hemp milk is excellent for making lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee drinks
There are also plenty of other plant based milk options: walnuts, macadamia, cashew, pistachio (great for smoothies), quinoa (high content of protein) etc.
What about house made plant based milk ?
Producing homemade plant based milks (based on nuts, oats etc.) is not a good solution. They will lack calcium and will contain a lot of phosphorus and phytic acid, which will further reduce calcium absorption from the diet. It’s ok to use them once in a while when you run out of the shop bought milk but on a daily basis try to get a milk with protein and calcium.
When choosing a plant based drink, you need to pay attention to several important things:
Check whether it contains calcium (typically 120 mg / 100 ml of the product). Many people give up buying such fortified milks because they are afraid of additives. This is not the right approach, it’s a great way to get calcium in plant based diet
Choose a sugar-free plant based milk
It is surprising how many manufacturers add sugar in large quantities. Especially large amounts are found in flavoured milk: vanilla, chocolate etc., which is why they should be avoided. If the taste of natural plant drinks does not suit you, choose those with the lowest added sugar.
Fat, e.g. sunflower oil - improves sensory value, texture, and improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins but you need to be aware of calories.
e.g. carrageenan, guar gum, phosphates, or calcium carbonate – they
are intended to thicken the consistency of the drink and make it become "milky" from "watery"
You should look for plant based milk with
vitamin A, vitamin D, and riboflavin
Don’t be overwhelmed with the choices in store, just try different types of plant based milks from different brands and find your favourite one.