Which milk is right for you? Compare 10 types

More and more people are refusing cow’s milk for various reasons. Physician Carrie Torrance, a nutritionist, tried to explain in sequence why certain alternative milks and vegan drinks may be preferable for you.

On the shelves of large supermarkets, next to packages of ordinary cow’s milk, there may be goat’s milk, several varieties of soy, milk drinks made from nuts. The demand for such substitutes is increasing every year. According to British scientists, 4 out of 10 English people already use just such dairy “alternatives” in hot drinks, with breakfasts and use them in cooking various dishes.

One of the reasons for this is the fact that in many people milk is difficult to digest, causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea. A common reason for this is the low content of the lactase enzyme, which allows the breakdown of lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. There are people who suffer from (lactase deficiency) or milk protein casein, or other allergies associated with cow’s milk. Cow’s milk allergy is one of the typical health problems of preschool children, affecting approximately 2-3%. Its symptoms can be very different, ranging from skin irritation to digestive problems.

Fat-free, semi-fat, or whole?

Recent scientific studies show that skimmed milk is not necessarily healthy. Yes, it has less fat and calories, and it has more calcium than whole milk. But some experts point out that the saturated fat found in dairy products may not pose a health risk. However, by choosing skim milk over whole milk, we are depriving ourselves of beneficial fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A and E.

Semi-fat milk is considered a “healthy diet” (because it has less fat than whole milk), but it is lower in fat-soluble vitamins. If you drink such milk, you need to get additional fat-soluble vitamins from other sources – for example, eat more leafy vegetables (lettuce of different varieties), or eat fresh vegetable salads with vegetable oil.

The best milk for babies

The best nutrition for babies is mother’s milk, at least for the first 6 months (according to WHO recommendations – at least the first 2 years, or even more – Vegetarian), and then you can start giving whole cow’s milk little by little, not earlier than a year old. Semi-fat milk can be given to a child from the 2nd year of life, and skim milk – not earlier than 5 years. In doing so, you need to make sure that your child is not allergic to cow’s milk. Some dairy “alternatives”, such as soy drinks, may not be suitable for young children at all.

How to choose the “best” milk for yourself?

We bring to your attention a comparison of 10 different types of milk. Whether you decide to end up drinking whole cow’s milk or not, always include non-dairy sources of calcium in your diet, such as lettuce, nuts and seeds, including almonds and sesame seeds.

1. Traditional (whole) cow’s milk

Characteristics: a natural product rich in protein, a valuable source of calcium. “Organic” cow’s milk contains more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and less antibiotics and pesticides. Some people prefer homogenized milk because the fat molecules in it have already been processed to help digestion in the digestive system.

Good: for vegetarians.

Taste: delicate, creamy.

Cooking: good to use with ready-made breakfasts, for making cereals, in cold drinks, and also by itself; ideal for sauces and pastries.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Tesco brand whole milk.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 68 kcal, 122 mg calcium, 4 g fat, 2.6 g saturated fat, 4.7 g sugar, 3.4 g protein.

2. Lactose-free cow’s milk

Characteristics: cow’s milk, specially filtered in such a way as to remove lactose. The enzyme lactase was added to it. Contains generally the same nutrients as regular whole cow’s milk.

Good: for people with lactose intolerance.

Taste: Usually the same as cow’s milk.

Cooking: Used in the same way as whole cow’s milk.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Asda brand lactose-free whole cow’s milk.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 58 kcal, 135 mg calcium, 3.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 2.7 g sugar, 3.9 g protein.

3. Cow’s milk “A2”

Characteristics: cow’s milk containing only protein A2. Regular cow’s milk contains a number of different proteins, including a group of caseins, the main ones being A1 and A2. Recent scientific studies show that intestinal discomfort is most often caused by proteins of the A1 type, so if you are not lactose intolerant in general, but sometimes after drinking a glass of milk you feel bloated, then this milk is for you.

Good: For those who suffer from A1 milk protein intolerance. Taste: Same as regular cow’s milk.

Cooking: Used in the same way as whole cow’s milk.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Morrisons brand A2 whole cow’s milk.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 64 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 3.6 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat, 4.7 g sugar, 3.2 g protein.

4. Goat milk

Characteristics: a natural product, nutritionally similar to cow’s milk.

Good: for those with cow’s milk intolerance, as in goat fat particles are smaller, and it also has less lactose. Taste: strong, specific, sweetish with a salty aftertaste.

Cooking: can be added to tea, coffee, hot chocolate (although it will be an “amateur” drink – Vegetarian). In recipes, it usually successfully replaces cow’s.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Sainsbury’s whole goat milk.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 61 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 3.6 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 4.3 g sugar, 2.8 g protein.

5. Soy milk

Characteristics: comparable in protein content to cow’s milk, but low in fat. Soy products help to lower cholesterol, but to achieve this result, you need to consume about 25 g of soy protein, i.e., for example, 3-4 glasses of soy milk daily. Some brands of soy milk have added calcium and vitamins A and D, which is beneficial.

Good: For those who don’t drink cow’s milk and are looking for a low-fat drink. It is preferable to drink soy milk fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D.

Taste: nutty; thick milk.

Cooking: goes well with tea and coffee. Great for home baking.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Vivesoy unsweetened soy milk – Tesco.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 37 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 1.7 g fat, 0.26 g saturated fat, 0.8 g sugar, 3.1 g protein.

6. Almond milk

Characteristics: prepared from a mixture of crushed almonds with spring water, enriched with calcium and vitamins, including D and B12.

Good: For vegans and anyone who avoids animal products for various reasons. Enriched with vitamin B12, essential for vegans and vegetarians. Taste: delicate nutty taste; for drinking it is better to choose unsweetened.

Cooking: good for coffee, slightly worse in other hot drinks; in recipes without changing the quantity, it replaces cow’s.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Unsweetened almond milk brand Alpro – Ocado.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 13 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 1.1. g fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 0.1 g sugar, 0.4 g protein. (Carefully read the information on the packaging: the content of almonds in almond milk from different manufacturers can vary greatly – Vegetarian).

7. Coconut milk

Feature: Produced by pressing coconuts. Contains artificially added calcium, low protein, and high saturated fat.

Good: for vegetarians, vegans.

Taste: light, with a hint of coconut.

Cooking: can be added to ready-made breakfasts, tea, coffee. Great for baking, because. delicate coconut flavor is not too bright and does not “clog” other tastes. It is especially good to fry thin vegan pancakes with coconut milk, because. it’s pretty liquid.

Tested for the preparation of this material: Free From Coconut Milk – Tesco.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 25 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 1.8 g fat, 1.6 g saturated fat, 1.6 g sugar, 0.2 g protein.

8. Hemp milk

Feature: hemp seed drink enriched with calcium and vitamin D.

Good: for vegans.

Taste: delicate, sweetish.

Cooking: Suitable for adding to hot and cold drinks, smoothies, tea, coffee, sauces. You can also mix hemp milk with fruit and honey and freeze for a delicious vegan “ice cream”! Tested for the preparation of this material: Braham & Murray Good Hemp Original – Tesco hemp milk.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 39 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 2.5 g fat, 0.2 g saturated fat, 1.6 g sugar, 0.04 g protein. 

9. Oat milk

Feature: Made from oatmeal with added vitamins and calcium. Reduced content of saturated fat.

Good: for vegans. Low-calorie, yet healthy, like oatmeal. Taste: creamy, with a specific aftertaste.

Cooking: Doesn’t curdle, so good for making white sauce (with lemon, among other ingredients).

Tested for the preparation of this material: Oatly Oat – Sainsbury’s oat milk.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 45 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 1.5 g fat, 0.2 g saturated fat, 4 g sugar, 1.0 g protein.

10. Rice milk

Feature: Sweet drink containing protein and enriched with calcium.

Good: for people with intolerance to both cow’s milk and soy protein. Taste: sweet.

Cooking: does not impart a milky color to hot drinks, so it is not suitable for adding to coffee and tea. Rice milk is liquid – this must be taken into account when cooking (sometimes it is worth adding more flour).

Tested for the preparation of this material: rice milk brand Rice Dream – Holland & Barrett.

Nutrition per 100 ml: 47 kcal, 120 mg calcium, 1.0 g fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 4 g sugar, 0.1 g protein.


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