Every member of your family requires calcium and vitamin D for strong teeth and bones, and milk has been the mainstay for acquiring these vital nutrients. The milk sections of most large supermarkets' dairy aisles have expanded dramatically over recent years to include an array of choices. Once upon a time, your selection was an easy pick between whole cow's milk or chocolate-flavored cow's milk. When concerns about the implications of high cholesterol surfaced, cow's milk display shelves grew to include choices that contained varying degrees of lower fat content. If you are lactose intolerant, you were once out of luck. Today, you can peruse through more than a dozen choices, including milks that are not of the bovine kind. Familiarizing yourself with the benefits of the different kinds of milk on the market can help you make the best choices for your family's nutritional needs.
Cow's milk is the most widely available dairy milk on the market, but goat's milk is becoming a popular alternative. Cow's milk and goat's milk both provide the following nutrients:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
Whole milk contains the highest fat content, and therefore the most calories. Reduced-fat milk is often labeled as two percent milk, low-fat milk is labeled as one percent milk, and nonfat milk contains zero percent fat content. These restricted fat variations are ideal for those who are on weight-loss programs or have high cholesterol. Some differences between cow's milk and goat's milk include the following:
- Goat's milk is lower in fat than whole cow's milk.
- Goat's milk is equal in fat to that contained in two percent cow's milk.
- Goat's milk is lower in lactose than whole cow's milk.
For individuals with lactose intolerance who do not fare well with goat's milk, lactose-free cow's milk is now an available alternative.
Made from ground nuts, nut milks have joined the lineup, and there are a few to choose from. These choices include unsweetened and sweetened versions of the following:
- Almond milk
- Cashew milk
- Hazelnut milk
One thing to be aware of when shopping for nut milks is that regular or sweetened variations contain added cane sugar. Another thing to keep in mind is that although nuts in their pure form are good sources of protein, this is not the case with nut milks. Nut milks are not natural sources of calcium, but many manufacturers are fortifying their nut milks with added calcium and vitamin D. The nutritional benefits of nut milks are that they are naturally lactose-free, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, and are good sources of vitamin A.
Made from soybeans, soy milk is a good source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and potassium. Soy milk does not contain saturated fat, cholesterol, or lactose, but some contain added cane sugar. There are unsweetened versions of soy milk, which may be a healthier choice for those who need to restrict their sugar intake. Keep in mind that only some soy milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Soy milk is an ideal option for vegetarians and for individuals with lactose intolerance or milk allergies.
Made from milled rice and water, rice milk is the least likely milk option to incite allergy symptoms from those who have tree nut allergies or are lactose intolerant. Rice milk is also a good choice for vegetarians. It is low in protein and high in carbohydrates, however, making it a poor choice for diabetics and bodybuilders. Individuals who are trying to lose weight may want to refrain from drinking rice milk as well. While whole cow's milk has the highest amount of calories, rice milk comes in second. Like soy milk and nut milks, rice milk can be fortified to contain calcium and vitamin D.
Coconut milk contains no protein, and it is high in saturated fat. Its calcium content tends to be low. The benefits of coconut milk that do a body good stem from the fact that it contains more nutrients than whole cow's milk, including the following:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Coconut milk is lactose-free, and it provides vegetarians with yet another milk alternative.
In some health food supermarkets, you may encounter still more milk choices, such as oat milk, flax milk and hemp milk. In most stores where a variety of milk choices are sold, you can also ponder the option of certified organic variations, and some dairy farms sell raw milk directly to the public. The key points to examine when shopping for milk are the saturated fat, protein, and sugar contents. Unless you or a family member suffers from lactose intolerance, has allergies or has specific dietary needs, you can enjoy sipping the nutritional benefits of any of the aforementioned milks based on your personal flavor and textural preferences. With so many choices, you might want to stock up on more cereal, too.
For more information about nutrition and allergies, contact a clinic like Summit View Clinic.