If you’re new to a dairy-free diet, picking out a non-dairy milk substitute can be daunting at first. With options in the dairy case ranging from coconut milk to flax milk and more, how do you know which ones are the best and what you should try to avoid when making your selection?
To help you find the right dairy-free milk for you and your family, we give our top picks in one of our recent “Get The Skinny” articles, plus offer some tips on what to look for and what to avoid in milk alternatives.
NOTE: Non-dairy milk alternatives can be appealing to those looking for vegan options, as well as those with lactose intolerance or milk protein allergies. Many milk substitutes are also much lower in calories compared to cow’s milk.
Taste, appearance, and texture vary widely – it comes down to personal preference for most people.
When making your non-dairy milk selection, compare labels for the following:
- Calories: These can range from 25 to 170 calories per cup.
- Protein: Compared to 8 grams protein in cow’s milk, many non-milk alternatives fall short with just as little as zero to one gram of protein.
- Calcium: Look for products fortified with at least 30% DV for calcium.
- Vitamin D: Look for products with at least 25% DV for Vitamin D.
- Added sugar: Some non-milk alternatives can be filled with added sugars, so look for milks labeled as unsweetened or naturally sweetened with low-calorie stevia or monkfruit.
Top Picks on Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives:
Compare the below options to one cup nonfat milk: 90 calories, 12 grams carbs, 12 grams sugar, 8 grams protein, 30% DV calcium, 25% DV vitamin D
Almond Milk: Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla
- Per cup: 40 calories, 1 gram carb, 0 sugar, 1 gram protein, 45% calcium, 25% vitamin D
- Ingredients include filtered water, almonds, sea salt, carrageenan and sunflower lecithin.
Flax Milk: Good Karma Flax Milk Protein + Unsweetened Vanilla
- Per cup: 50 calories, 2 grams carb, 0 sugar, 5 grams protein
- Ingredients include: flax milk, pea protein, tapioca starch, vanilla extract, sea salt, guar gum, xanthan gum
Cashew Milk: Silk Cashew Milk Unsweetened
- Per cup: 25 calories, 1 gram carbohydrate, 0 sugar, <1 gram protein
- Ingredients include water, cashews, sea salt, locust bean gum, almond butter and gellan gum.
Coconut Milk: Silk Coconut Unsweetened
- Per cup: 45 calories, <1 gram carb, 0 sugar, 0 protein, 45% DV calcium, 25% DV vitamin D
- Ingredients include coconut milk (water, coconut cream), carrageenan and yam flour.
Soy Milk: 365 Soy Milk Unsweetened
- Per cup: 80 calories, 4 grams carbohydrate, <1 gram sugar, 7 grams protein
- Ingredients include non-GMO soymilk, locus bean gum, sea salt and gellan gum.
For more details on this topic, read Molly’s full “Get The Skinny” article on WGNO New Orleans.