By: Ava Elliott, Marketing Intern
Reviewed by: Devon Kroesche, MS RDN LDN
The Big 9 food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, sesame, and soy. Many people are either lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy.
A food intolerance occurs when the human body has a chemical reaction and a challenging time digesting certain foods, whereas a food allergy elicits an immune response. With a milk allergy, there is an immune response elicited and a reaction to milk protein occurs. There are many cow’s milk alternatives on the market, and it can be confusing to choose the right milk for your body.
Let us break it down to the basics and learn about the several types of milk and plant-based milk available.
Cow’s milk is a rich source of protein and calcium. Protein is important for growth and repair in the body. Calcium is vital for bone and teeth health, strong bones, and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Choosing milk with lower milkfat can decrease the saturated fat content.
Soy milk is a lactose-free dairy substitute that is rich in B vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids: healthful fats that can help with brain health and prevent certain diseases like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and some cancers. Look for soy milk that is fortified with calcium to help with bone health. Soy milk is comparable to cow’s milk, but it contains more fiber and has slightly less fat, carbohydrates, and sugar.
Oat milk is another plant-based, milk alternative. Oat milk has 2 grams of fiber per 1 cup, but less protein than cow’s milk or soy milk. Look for oat milk that has fortified vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A. Another tip is to look for “unsweetened” oat milk to reduce the amount of sugar.
Almond milk is another plant-based, lactose-free milk available for those who enjoy a nutty flavor. This milk is rich in magnesium, which is necessary for reactions in the body and can help control blood sugar levels. Look for unsweetened almond milk to lower amount of sugars and carbohydrates. A common tip is to purchase almond milk fortified with calcium and phosphorus to strengthen bones. Almond milk is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin E that help prevent cells from damage and lower the risk of certain conditions like heart disease.
Coconut milk is a great source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which increase energy and are a healthful source of fat. Coconut milk contains a small amount of both iron and calcium. Coconut milk contains a higher amount of saturated fat and should be limited in moderation.
It is important to consider allergies and intolerances when choosing the right milk for you. Some plant-based milks are great for cooking or baking, and others taste great alone or in coffee or tea. Check out the healthful tips mentioned above and the table comparing the nutrients of each milk mentioned above.
Whether you are choosing a non-dairy alternative due to an allergy/intolerance or other reasons, it is important to make sure you are not missing out on key nutrients. This is why working with a registered dietitian is so important! Schedule an appointment with us by emailing email@example.com.