Pros, Cons of Dairy-Free Milk

KIWI Magazine

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:

Soymilk

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.

Almond 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.

Rice milk

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.

Oat milk

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.

Coconut Milk

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.

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