From fan-favorite almond milk to more rare drinks like hemp milk, plant-based options are giving cows some stiff competition. So, how do you decide which one’s right for you? Taste definitely matters, but nutrition does as well. Each has a different nutrient profile, some boasting more protein, some higher in fat, and some lacking in calcium. And without being enriched with nutrients, none of them quite measure up to dairy milk (9 essential vitamins and minerals and 30% daily value and 8 grams protein per cup), but they can be used cup for cup as a substitute in recipes. And remember, no matter which one you choose, you’ll still want to read the label, as many flavored varieties contain up to 7 teaspoons of added sugar!
With just 30 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per cup, unsweetened almond milk is a great option if you are trying to cut calories. Also, since almonds actually contain calcium, it is one of the best calcium-containing alternatives, boasting 45% of the daily value per cup. It also naturally provides vitamin E. However, the protein content still ranks low with just 1 gram per cup.
With 6 grams of protein per cup, soy milk comes the closest to cow’s milk in protein content. Plus, like cow’s milk, it also provides potassium and has just 100 calories with 3.5 grams of fat and 0.5g saturated fat per cup. Look for enriched versions to ensure that you also get the other important nutrients, such as calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
This milk doesn’t win out on the calorie-to-protein ratio due to its 130 calories and only 1 gram of protein per cup. However, it has just 2.5 grams of fat and no saturated fat per cup, and enriched rice milk has calcium, vitamin D, and B vitamins added. Look for “unsweetened” varieties to avoid 12 grams of sugar per cup.
With 4 grams of saturated fat per serving (which we should limit for good heart health!) coconut milk is an alternative that ranks highly in fat. Coconut milk has also traditionally been high in calories, but some unsweetened versions have just 45 calories per cup.
Also somewhat higher in fat compared to other milk alternatives, hemp milk has 5 grams per cup, but only half a gram of that is saturated fat and most is heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Plus, hemp milk has 3 grams of protein and 70 calories per cup.
Usually very high in sugar and somewhat high in calories (19 grams and 130 per cup, respectively), oat milk has more protein than some alternatives, providing 4 grams per 1 cup serving.
Source: SELF Magazine