Top Healthy Milk Options for your Diet

Healthy milk options? It’s a lot to take, isn’t it?

Well, over the past few years, we’ve had tons and tons of milk alternatives and milk options, and so selecting the best and healthiest milk is more than just the fat content.

Whether you are concerned about your dietary preferences, or for health reasons, or maybe you just want to try out various options, you may be thinking of healthy milk options. Welcome to an article that explores healthy milk options for your diet.

Healthy milk options
Photo Credit: Chicago Health

HEMP MILK

Hemp milk is produced from hemp seeds. The seeds are ground and soaked. What’s more? They do not contain the psychoactive component that is typical of the Cannabis sativa plant.

The cannabis seeds are rich in protein, and very healthy omega-3 and 6 unsaturated fats. So, these nutrients are slightly higher in hemp milk than the milk of other plants.

You can get the following nutrients from a 240ml serving of hemp milk (1):

  • Iron: 10 percent of the daily value
  • Magnesium: 15 percent of the daily value
  • Calcium: 20 percent of the daily value
  • Phosphorus: 25 percent of the daily value
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbs: 10g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Calories: 60

Hemp milk doesn’t contain any carbs. However, some manufacturers do add sweeteners, and adding these sweeteners increases the carb content of the milk. Always check the labeling and buy a product without added sugar.

Sometimes, the manufacturers may list sugar on the ingredient label as cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, or brown rice syrup.

OAT MILK

Oat milk is one of the healthy milk options for your diet. Although the health benefits of oat milk are similar to that of whole grain oats, it still has a high nutritional value.

Oat milk has a sweet taste and is rich in carbs. But there’s something unusual about it. It contains soluble fiber, and this is responsible for its somewhat creamy feature.

The soluble fiber absorbs water and becomes gel-like during digestion. This slows the digestion and allows you to remain full for longer. It can also stabilize the level of sugar in your blood.

And also, the soluble fiber that is in oat milk can reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood. A five-week study involving 52 men showed that consumption of oat milk reduced the levels of LDL cholesterol, compared with a control beverage (2).

Although there may be variations in the nutrient content based on the brand, a 240ml serving of oat milk can give you the following:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbs: 16g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Fat: 5g
  • Vitamin B12: 50 percent of the daily value
  • Riboflavin: 46 percent of the daily value
  • Calcium: 27 percent of the daily value
  • Phosphorus: 22 percent of the daily value
  • Vitamin D: 18 percent of the daily value
  • Vitamin A: 18 percent of the daily value

ALMOND MILK

Here’s another healthy milk option for your breakfast. It’s almond milk. Making almond milk is very easy. You simply soak almonds in water, blend it, and then strain off the solids.

Almond milk is a very tasty, healthy milk alternative for people who don’t fancy dairy milk or cannot drink it at all. However, it is contraindicated in those who have a tree nut allergy.

Unsweetened almond milk has low-calorie content and a lower carb content than cow milk. This makes it a great choice if you are a fan of low carb diets (3).

But then, some brands may add some extra sugar. Always read the ingredient label so that you’ll know the sweetened brands.

Almond milk has a high amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant. However, its protein content is low. Most brands of almond milk are fortified with vitamins D and A, although the amounts vary by brand.

A 240ml serving of almond milk offers the following nutrients (4):

  • Calories: 41
  • Protein: 1g
  • Carbs: 2g
  • Fat: 3g
  • Vitamin E: 50 percent of the daily value

Some brands add carrageenan to make it thick and to prevent separation.

There’s some controversy surrounding the health effects of carrageenan. It is believed that it may promote inflammation and damage to the intestine. But then, most studies conducted on carrageenan and gut health are done on animals and in laboratories (5,6).

COCONUT MILK

Coconut milk is extracted from coconut meat. Its flavor is fresh and pleasant. Coconut milk is a healthy alternative to dairy milk and it is safe if you have a tree nut allergy.

Packaged coconut milk is blended with water. This makes its consistency to be similar to that of cow’s milk. Its protein content is lower than that of almond milk, but most brands are fortified with some nutrients.

Conversely, canned coconut milk is used for culinary purposes. It is unfortified, has a high-fat content, with a very distinctive coconut flavor.

From an 8-ounce serving of unsweetened coconut milk, you can get the following (7):

  • Calories: 46
  • Protein: NIL
  • Carbs: 1g
  • Fat: 4g

The fat content of coconut milk is a bit higher than that of other plant milk. But then, the medium-chain triglycerides that is present in coconut is linked to cardiovascular health benefits, such as high HDL (3).

Some brands of coconut milk are associated with vitamins A, D, and B12, alongside some minerals. The type of nutrients and amount vary among brands, so ensure that you compare the labels.

COW’S MILK

Cow’s milk is widely consumed. It is the most popular of healthy milk options, and a rich source of protein (8).

Cow’s milk is rich in B vitamins, calcium, and minerals. It is fortified with vitamin D and A, making it very nutritious for both adults and children (8).

From a 240ml serving of cow’s milk, you can get the following nutrients (9):

  • Calories: 149
  • Protein: 8g
  • Carbs: 12g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Vitamin D: 24 percent of the daily value
  • Calcium: 28 percent of the daily value
  • Riboflavin: 26 percent of the daily value
  • Phosphorus: 22 percent of the daily value
  • Vitamin B12: 18 percent of the daily value
  • Selenium: 13 percent of the daily value
  • Potassium: 10 percent of the daily value

But that notwithstanding, the protein in the milk of cows is an allergen, a common one at that. Many children outgrow it, but some people are allergic to it for the rest of their lives, so they have to avoid beverages and foods that contain it (3).

It is on record that 65 percent of the population finds it hard to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in cow’s milk (10).

A2 MILK

Most of the protein in cow’s milk is sourced from casein. Dairy cows in America produce milk that contains A1 β-casein & A2 β-casein.

Digestion of A1 β-casein produces β-casomorphin-7, a peptide. It is linked to symptoms such as gas, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and other lactose-intolerance related symptoms (11).

Some dairy cows produce milk that contains nothing more than A2 beta-casein, which fails to form the BCM-7 peptide. The producer markets the product as easy-to-digest milk (12).

A study involving 45 subjects with lactose-intolerance discovered that it was easier to digest A2 milk, compared to the common cow’s milk (13).

A2 milk is very similar to cow’s milk, aside from the casein issue. While it may not be the right choice if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk protein, it might not hurt trying if you have mild issues with digesting regular cow’s milk.

Conclusion

We’ve explored in detail six healthy milk options for your diet. These milk alternatives offer many health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, enhancing your antioxidant intake, and protecting you from intolerance or allergy.

You could try mixing up the types of milk you consume. With that, you can get the full benefits from each, especially if taken alongside a healthy diet. Always check out the labels for ingredients like sugar or other unwanted ingredients.

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