Whether you’re lactose-intolerant or dairy conscious, there’s a milk alternative for you. By LYDIA KWON.
The fact that most of us were brought up on milk tells us a lot about its benefits. Not only are milk and dairy products essential for the growth of a child, it’s also crucial for the health of an adult. Cow milk is densely packed with nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D, and few other foods have come close to providing the same plethora of benefits in such potent doses.
Unfortunately, one man’s meat is another’s poison. While cow milk offers a strong nutritional profile, it comes from an animal source and contains both lactose and fat, making it unsuitable for vegans, weight watchers, and the lactose-intolerant. Thankfully, alternative milk sources are aplenty—from almond milk to soy milk. Here’s what you should know.
For the lactose intolerant: Lactose-free milk
If you experience bloating, diarrhoea, or other symptoms of indigestion when you consume milk, chances are, you are lactose-intolerant like 75 percent of the world’s population. As lactose is commonly found in dairy products, a good alternative is lactose-free milk, which is formulated with the enzyme lactase to aid the digestion of lactose. The great thing about lactose-free milk is that unlike other alternatives on this list, it offers the same familiar texture and taste as ordinary cow milk.
For active lifestyles: Hemp milk
Hemp milk is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to ease muscle aches after a strenuous workout. While hemp milk doesn’t offer the same amount of protein as cow milk, the Omega-3 fatty acids it’s loaded with have been proved to increase protein synthesis—the process by which the body converts the protein you consume into fuel needed to build both bulk and strength. If you’re a bodybuilder or athlete, consider mixing hemp milk into your protein shakes.
For calorie counters: Almond milk
Almond milk is low in calories and free of saturated fats, with one glass containing only about half the amount in skim milk. With almond as its main ingredient, the drink is packed with high amounts of Vitamin E in each serving. Health benefits include antioxidant properties, improvement of skin and eye health, as well as stronger brain function. Unless you’re allergic to nuts, almond milk is a tasty alternative to cow milk.
For those on ketogenic diets: Coconut milk
Ketogenic diets involve the consumption of very little carbohydrates and sugar, as well as high amounts of fat. Said to be the answer to leaner and toner bodies, they’re becoming increasingly popular. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, which limits you to about 25-30 grams of net carbs a day, ordinary cow milk just won’t do it for you—a glass of whole milk will set you back about 12 grams of net carbs. Try full-fat coconut milk as it’s low in carbohydrates and high in fat, making it perfect for ketogenic dieters.
An all-round better alternative to milk: Soy milk
Soy milk is a winner because of the health benefits it provides. It’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which supports brain health, as well as Vitamin B, which helps one avoid fatigue. Plus, its high amounts of protein promote healthy muscles, bones, and organs. Soy milk also promotes isoflavones, which mimic estrogen to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. For the health-conscious, there’s always soy milk with no added sugar.