It's on almost every school lunch tray in America. Over the last century, milk has been proclaimed somewhat of a super drink. A staple in many households,  cow’s milk does boast an impressive nutrient profile. It’s rich in high-quality protein and important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins.

In fact, one cup of whole milk provides 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates. But it is not suitable for everyone. Two to three percent of kids under age 3 are allergic and an estimated 75% of the world's population has an intolerance to lactose which is the sugar in milk.  One option Is lactose-free milk, but there are many more dairy-free milk alternatives now on the market. Many of these are fortified to offer the same nutritional benefits as cows milk, and in my opinion, most are very tasty. If you want to make a change from cow's milk, how do you choose the milk alternative that is right for you? We break down some of the most popular types to help you decide.

 

  • 1

    Oat Milk

    In its simplest form, oat milk is made from a mixture of oats and water. Nevertheless, manufacturers often add extra ingredients such as gums, oils, and salt to produce a desirable taste and texture. Oat milk is naturally sweet and has a mild flavor. Oat milk contains a similar number of calories to cow’s milk, up to double the number of carbohydrates and about half the amount of protein and fat. 

    Oat milk is high in total fiber and beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that binds to cholesterol, reducing its absorption in the body. This helps lower cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol, the type associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

  • 2

    Quinoa Milk

    The whole quinoa grain is very nutritious, gluten-free and rich in high-quality protein. While quinoa has become a very popular “superfood” over recent years, quinoa milk is fairly new to the market. For this reason, it is slightly more expensive than other nondairy milk and can be a little harder to find in the supermarket. Quinoa milk is slightly sweet and nutty and has a distinct quinoa flavor. It works best poured onto cereal.

  • 3

    Soy Milk

    Soy milk is naturally lactose-free, plus has plenty of protein, B vitamins, iron, and fiber. Soy milk is made with either soybeans or soy protein isolate, and often contains thickeners and vegetable oils to improve taste and consistency. It typically has a mild and creamy flavor. However, the taste can vary between brands. It works best as a substitute for cow’s milk in savory dishes, with coffee or on top of cereal.

     

  • 4

    Almond Milk

    Unlike regular whole milk, saturated fat is absent in almond milk. Almond milk is low in calories, but it also has fewer nutrients than regular milk. While it does have some vitamins,  almond milk may contain the additive carrageenan, which may cause digestive problems. It’s a good replacement for coffee creamer, as well as regular cream for carrot, butternut squash, potato, or pumpkin soups.

  • 5

    Cashew Milk

    Cashew milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk, and has less calories, but, just like almond milk, does not have as many nutrients.

  • 6

    Rice Milk

    Rice milk is good for people with a sensitive stomach since it is easier to digest, but it also contains a lot of sugar. It’s important to read the labels and check for added sugars.

  • 7

    Coconut Milk

    Coconut milk tastes great, is great for cooking, and has a lot of vitamin D, calcium, and B vitamins. However, it does contain a lot of sugar and saturated fat, so make sure you read the labels.