When it comes to alternative milks, tasty and nutritious options abound. Gena Hamshaw, a certified clinical nutritionist based in New York City, weighs in on how these sips stack up:
Nutritional highs: Highest in protein (it boasts an impressive 7 g per cup), most soymilk brands are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and B12. It’s also low in saturated fat.
Nutritional lows: Sweetened varieties can be high in sugar, so opt for unsweetened.
Best ways to use it: Of all the nondairy drinks, it’s the most similar in taste and consistency to cow’s milk. Enjoy it in cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, or anywhere else you’d use dairy milk.
Nutritional highs: Like the nuts themselves, almond milk is a good source of vitamin E. Plus, it’s low in saturated fat and sugar, and most varieties are fortified with calcium.
Nutritional lows: It’s low in protein, with only 1 g per cup on average.
Best ways to use it: The mildly sweet, nutty flavor works particularly well in baked goods.
Nutritional highs: Since it’s free of common allergens, like gluten, nuts, and soy, that are often found in other nondairy milks, rice milk is a good option for families with food intolerances. It’s also low in fat, and most brands are fortified with calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins D and B12.
Nutritional lows: Rice milk is low in protein, and tends to be higher in sugar than some of the other alternative milks, such as unsweetened soymilk.
Best ways to use it: It’s tasty straight up, alongside a cookie for dunking, or as a tasty soup base.
Nutritional highs: A good source of fiber and protein, oat milk is also typically fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and riboflavin.
Nutritional lows: It’s usually really high in sugar—about 17 grams per serving.
Best ways to use it: Oat milk’s mild flavor and thick, creamy consistency works well in mashed potatoes, soups, and sauces.
Nutritional highs: Coconut milk is high in iron, fiber, and protein (about 5 g per of protein cup). It’s low in sugar, too.
Nutritional lows: Traditional coconut milk is super-high in saturated fat, so use sparingly or opt for a lighter version, which will have more coconut water and less coconut cream.
Best ways to use it: Coconut milk works anywhere you want a coconut flavor—like in Indian or Thai curry dishes—and is delicious in homemade nondairy ice cream.