Cow’s Milk Alternatives Nutrition Guide

By Ted

2819-milk-alternatives-nutrition.jpgThey say you can milk anything with teats, but if this is true, how then do they milk an almond or a soybean?

Anyway….. Whether you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or just not wanting to support the dairy industry, which milk alternative should you choose?There are many different versions of each of the milk substitutes listed below including flavored and sweetened ones. So for simplicity, let’s take a look at the nutrition of each type in its purest form. Also, nutrition could vary slightly between brands, but this will give us a general idea as to how the milk alternatives compare.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is probably the most popular milk substitute.

Nutrition: Silk Organic Unsweetened (1cup serving)

Calories: 80 Fat Calories: 35 Fat: 4g
Sodium: 85mg Poteassium: 300mg Carbs: 4g
Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Protein: 7g
Vitamin A: 10% DV Calcium: 30% DV Iron: 6% DV
Vitamin D: 30% Vitamin B12: 50% DV Riboflavin: 30% DV
Folate: 6% DV Magnesium: 10% DV zinc: 4% DV
Selenium: 8% DV    

Ingredients: Organic Soymilk (Filtered Water, Whole Organic Soybeans), Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12.

Rice Milk

Nutrition: Rice Dream Enriched Rice Milk (1 cup serving)

Calories: 120 Fat Calories: 20 Fat: 2.5g
Sodium: 80mg Poteassium: 0mg Carbs: 23g
Fiber: 0g Sugar: 10g Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 10% DV Calcium: 30% DV Iron: 4% DV
Vitamin D: 25% Vitamin B12: 25% DV Riboflavin: 0% DV
Folate: 0% DV Phosphorus: 15% DV  

Ingredients: Filtered water, brown rice (partially milled), expeller pressed high oleic safflower oil, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, vitamin B12.

Almond Milk

Nutrition: Almond Dream Unsweetened (1 cup serving)

Calories: 30 Fat Calories: 25 Fat: 2.5g
Sodium: 100mg Poteassium: 0mg Carbs: 1g
Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 20% DV Calcium: 30% DV Iron: 2% DV
Vitamin D: 25% Vitamin B12: 50% DV Vitamin E: 25% DV
Folate: 0% DV Phosphorus: 15% DV  

Ingredients: Almond base (filtered water, almonds), tricalcium phosphate, natural almond flavor with other natural flavors, sea salt, gellan gum, vitamin E, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B12, vitamin D2.

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is made from the hemp nut and is a new comer in the milk alternative market, so it may be harder to find in stores.

Nutrition: Tempt Hempmilk – Unsweetened (1 cup serving)

Calories: 70 Fat Calories: 60 Fat: 6g
Sodium: 125mg Poteassium: 0mg Carbs: 1g
Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 10% DV Calcium: 30% DV Iron: 6% DV
Vitamin D: 25% Vitamin B12: 25% DV Vitamin E: 8% DV
Folate: 2% DV Phosphorus: 20% DV Zinc: 4%

Ingredients: Hemp Nut Base (Filtered Water, Hemp Nut [Shelled Hemp Seed]), Natural Flavors, Tricalcium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Sea Salt, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk has been around forever, but it just recently has begun to be marketed as a cow’s milk alternative. Since it’s new, I couldn’t find an unsweetened carton version.

Nutrition: Silk Pure Coconut (1 cup serving)

Calories: 80 Fat Calories: 50 Fat: 5g (100% saturated)
Sodium: 30mg Poteassium: 40mg Carbs: 7g
Fiber: 0g Sugar: 6g Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 10% DV Calcium: 45% DV Iron: 4% DV
Vitamin D: 25% Vitamin B12: 50% DV  

Ingredients: Coconuts, filtered water, natural sweetener, natural flavorings, vitamins, minerals.

Conclusions

All milk alternatives have added vitamins and minerals in order to make them similar to cow’s milk. To determine which one is the best is a bit tricky, but it would greatly depend on what your nutrition goals are.

If you’re looking for a protein rich beverage, then soy milk is the best or if you’re cutting back on carbs, then rice milk should be avoided. Also, the fat content needs to be considered because in almond, hemp, and coconut milk most of their calories come from fat.

It may come down to taste, so determine which of these milk alternatives you enjoy drinking the most while still fitting in with your dietary guidelines. My only recommendation would be to avoid the products with added sugar as the calories greatly increase in those.

Which of the above milk alternatives do you prefer?

20 Comments

  1. emedoutlet

    I would prefer Almond milk.

    Reply
  2. gazebo

    As I’ve become older, I became more and more lactose intolerant. Silk Soy Milk was the best alternative for me because it tastes pretty good in coffee or tea. Lately, my doctor has found that I am Vitamin D deficient. So I think since I don’t drink milk any more, I’m probably missing out on alot of Vitamin D. I know that soy milk has some Vitamin D but not a whole lot. I wonder if not drinking enough milk might have caused me to be Vitamin D deficient.

    Reply
  3. T. Kallmyer

    Thanks for clearing that up Ann, good to know. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Ann

    It depends on what you are looking for out of dairy. Do you mean a good source of calcium? The milk alternatives listed here have calcium. Plus there are things like broccoli, spinach, and fortified cereals and juices. If you mean an alternative for other purposes, it really depends on the purpose.

    Reply
  5. Kristy Griffin

    what would be a good way to get your dairy intake if you don’t like milk?

    Reply
  6. beautifulgrace1

    I made a mistake, they do have calcium. Sorry

    Reply
  7. beautifulgrace1

    I prefer the almond milk too, it is better tasting. Although I still sneak in regular milk and end up paying a price as my body wants to reject it. What about the calcium?

    Reply
  8. DrBill

    I find almond milk much better tasting and more digestible than soy milk. It’s readily available in unsweetened vanilla, and organic form.

    Reply
  9. Ann

    Complete myth. Soy contains isoflavones, also known as phytoestrogens or “plant estrogens.” The chemical structure of isoflavones is similar to estrogen, but the two function very differently in the body. Apparently, three clinical trials have examined soy consumption and sperm quality and quantity, and all showed no effect. The trials also showed no relationship between soy consumption and men’s reproductive hormone levels.

    Reply
  10. T. Kallmyer

    I’m always concerned about drinking soy milk because of the estrogen-like hormones its protein contains. Do any other guys worry about that?

    Reply
  11. Ann

    Except of course for the cruelty aspect …

    Reply
  12. Ann

    I can buy soy, almond, or rice milk (I assume coconut too, but haven’t looked) at a discount chain grocery in the middle of Baltimore. You certainly don’t need to go to Whole Foods to find it.

    Reply
  13. O.

    Sounds like the features I liked about the powdered cows milk.

    Reply
  14. O.

    Ya thats why I was so surprised that a discount store in the ( I don’t really want to use the word “ghetto”) had it.

    But people can be lactose intolerant at any income level, it’s no longer about exclusive food trends of certain economic and social groups.

    Reply
  15. pleasantevening

    I use soy milk, which i think is the best substitute of cow’s milk.

    Reply
  16. Spectra

    I don’t really drink milk, but I used to buy soy milk a lot when I did drink milk. It has a nice flavor and it has a lot of protein, plus it’s fairly similar in calories to skim milk. Some of those other milks are pretty tough to find or are very expensive, so that also has to be a consideration for many people. I don’t live anywhere near a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, so anything that can only be bought there is out of the question.

    Reply
  17. Jenifer

    I am lactose intolerant so I use Soymilk. Even if I weren’t lactose intolerant, I would prefer Soymilk anyway because it just tastes better to me! I have used Almond milk in the past, it’s good in smoothies & cereals, but HORRIBLE in coffee! Regular organic Soymilk I use for everything from lattes to cooking and baking. I even like to drink a bit of hot Soymilk before bed to help me sleep.

    Reply
  18. Jen

    I like the protein from soy but prefer the taste of almond milk. Recently I tried making it from scratch and was pleasantly surprised. It was extremely easy and also cheaper than store brands, with no stabilizers or preservatives. Here’s my recipe http://savorysimple.net/2011/10/11/raw-almond-milk/

    Reply
  19. Ann

    I use almond milk, though I have used soy milk in the past. One of the things I like is that it can be stored in the cupboard until you open it. I can buy several containers, but keep them around for longer periods of time than milk would last. And of course I like that it is cruelty-free. I would buy it even if it was less convenient than cow milk.

    Reply
  20. O.

    I’ve tried soy milk. I was even able to get it at a 99 cents store in a working class neighborhood…. So I guess that means it is mainstream now? LOL

    It was creamy and good whether I drank it straight or had it in cereal.

    But all in all I still get cows milk out of habit mostly, and also because I like to get big boxes of powdered milk.

    Now if they could make some of these milk alternatives in a powdered form…

    Reply