Saturday, January 8, 2011

Milk Money: Discriminating between all the new milks on the Market

Back in the day, people had their milk delivered, and they only had one choice: Whole (cow's) Milk. A few decades ago, consumers were given the opportunity to choose between Whole, 2%, 1%, and Skim cow's milk. However, if you step into an Acme today, you will be bombarded by all the milk products on the shelf: Skim, Superskim, 1%, 2%, Omega-3, high Vitamin D,  Vanilla, Chocolate, Whole, Lactose-Free, Almond, Soy, Coconut, Hemp, Whole Grain, Rice, and probably more! It can be tough to determine which is best for you and your family. Below I list the nutritional value of one of the most general milks in each category (eg: within Soy Milks you have fat free, low-fat, original, vanilla, light, chocolate, etc- I pick Original).


Comparison of Milks (based on 8 fl oz):

Milk Name
Calories
Fat (g)
Carb (g)
Protein (g)
Vit A (%DV)
Vit C (%DV)
Iron (%DV)
Calcium (%DV)
Vit D (%DV)
Skim
80
0
12
8
8
4
0
30
25
8th Continent Original Soy
80
2.5
7
8
10
0
6
30
25
Silk Pure Almond Original Almond
60
2.5
8
1
10
0
6
30
25
Rice Dream Original Rice
120
2.5
23
1
10
0
4
30
25
So Delicious Coconut
80
5 (5g SFA)
7
1
10
0
4
10
30
Tempt Hempmilk Original
100
6
9
2
10
0
6
30
25



8th Continent Original Nutrition Label
 As far as which milk is the healthiest, it really depends on what you are looking for. I have recently discovered that many people avoid soy because they think it is the cause of many health problems (much like gluten in my previous post). However, in terms of calories, fat, protein, Calcium, and Vitamin D (the key nutrients that are generally associated with "dairy"), Soy Milk is very comparable to 1% cow's milk, and therefore, I recommend it. Plus, it has soy protein which has shown to help prevent against heart disease (at levels >25 g/day) and some varieties even contain naturally occurring fiber.

Almond milk is healthy if you are trying to get in healthy monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, and find a milk-like product that is low in calories (unsweetened can contain as low as 40 calories/cup!). However, Almond milk is VERY low in protein, so I don't recommend it if you aren't consuming any other protein with a meal.

I don't advocate rice milk unless you have allergies against all the other versions of milk. Rice milk is very high in carbohydrate and very low in protein, so it's not the best bang for your buck.

Per a friend's request, I will be writing about coconut products in the future. But, as far as coconut milk goes, 100% of the fat is saturated, which is still controversial with regards to heart disease and cancer development. Although, the fats in coconut milk and oil are about 75% medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which are metabolized differently than most fats and therefore, some studies show they might be beneficial for weight loss. Also keep in mind that coconut milk is lower in protein and calcium than cow's milk, and it comes with a hefty price tag.

Hemp milk contains a good ratio of Omega 3: omega 6 fatty acids and is usually grown in a sustainable way. I'm a fan of hemp products, but as with other alternative milk products, Hemp milk is low in protein.

My recommendations: I encourage you to try all the alternative milks on the market. However, please know that skim or 1% cow's milk is extremely nutritious and nothing that should be avoided unless you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. Lactose-free milk (eg: Lactaid) is almost nutritionally identical to regular milk, except that the lactose sugar has been broken down, so it is sweeter tasting. My top two favorite milks are cow's and soy as far as nutrition, and I do recommend Almond and Hemp as supplementary beverages. I just ask before you completely switch cow's milk to an alternative milk that you do your research and know what nutrients you may be missing out on.

References:
1. 8th Continent Soy Milk
2. Lehigh Valley Dairies Skim Milk
3. Silk Pure Almond ™ Original Almond Milk
4. Rice Dream Enriched Refrigerated Original Rice Milk
5.  So Delicious Original Coconut Milk
6. Tempt™ Original Hempmilk
7. http://www.livingharvest.com/hemp-101/nutrition
8. Am J Clin Nurt 2005; 8:380-387

3 comments:

Beth Ann said...

Do you have any idea how almond milk is made? I mean I don't think you can milk an almond...I've also been puzzled about why it has such a lot protein/fat count when almonds have a lot of both. Do you know?

Kelly Strogen, MS, RD, LDN said...

Beth Ann, after baby almonds are born they naturally go to the mother... just kidding! Almond milk is usually made by soaking almonds over night, then blanching them to take off the skin, then they are blended with water (and sweetener and vanilla sometimes) and put through a sieve... and the liquid leftover is almond milk! The milk is lower in protein and fat than almonds because there is a lot of water added in the process that dilutes the nutrients. I'm kind of interested in trying to make this myself!

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