Comparing Dairy, Soy and Nut Milk

Comparing Dairy, Soy and Nut Milk

With more people challenged by consuming dairy, soy and nut milks have shown up on supermarket shelves as an alternative. Yet, there are many pros and cons to choosing these beverages which consumers, like yourself, may not be aware of. Comparing dairy, soy and nut milk will give you some info for the next time you are confronted with choosing what you may have grown up with as opposed to trendy new creamy beverages made from non-dairy sources. 

The Milk Factor

Americans alone have been consuming milk for decades and for good reason. It is high in protein, calcium, vitamin D and B12. These are essential nutrients for health that some recommend for superior growth in children (although this has not been fully proven). In addition, consuming whole milk may help lower blood glucose levels which could help heart health as well as prevent diabetes

Yet milk has been linked to causing lactose intolerance and compromising skin health due to hormones used in the factory farming process as well as the natural production of the hormone IGF-1 (released by whey and casein) which may also cause skin acne. Add in high saturated fat and cholesterol too, which in whole milk at least, can increase your weight and over time negatively affect your health.

Super Soy

The soy bean is harvested for a variety of food applications including plant based meats, tofu, and soy milk. Soy milk is high in protein (about the same found in cow’s milk) and low in saturated fat as well as cholesterol. It is also lactose-free which, for some, means easier digestion and less gas or bloating. However, some people have a negative digestion reaction to soy as they are allergic to this bean particularly when consumed in such a potent state. 

One particular benefit of consuming soy milk is the high isoflavones content. Isoflavones are plant properties linked to alleviating hot flashes and improving arterial health in menopausal women. Soy has also been shown to: 

  • Lower LDL cholesterol levels
  • Be a good source of both essential fatty acids
  • Help lower high blood pressure

The problem with consuming too much soy milk (or other soy products) is that it could trigger excessive estrogen production. This has been linked to potentially creating a hospitable environment for cancer cell creation, particularly breast cancer, however high amounts would have to be consumed for this to happen. 

Nutty Choices

There are so many nut milks on the market it is almost comical. The top seller is almond milk but now others are emerging which include: hemp, oat, walnut, and cashew milk. You would think that these nut milks would be skyrocketing in protein, yet few have more than one gram per cup. This is because of the processed manufacturing of most of these milks which means a high water content as well as various fillers. These create what you might think is a carton predominantly full of that particular nut when in essence it is yet another manipulation of the free-market. 

However, if you want to try some of these nut milks, here is a quick reference list:

Almond – Low in calories, high in vitamin E, and a good source of calcium. Almonds are low in sodium and high in healthy fats which helps to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease. May contain carrageenan (made from seaweed), a filler that could cause digestive difficulties.

Oat – Great source of B-vitamins and soluble fiber which aids heart health. May help prevent anemia (low iron), increase immune function, and lower blood cholesterol. Not a good choice for gluten sensitive individuals

Hemp – Derived from the marijuana plant (but does not contain the mind altering THC compound) hemp milk contains, as reported by Healthline, “unsaturated essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), which are essential for building new tissue and membranes in your body…hemp milk provides protein that your body can easily digest and use. It’s one of few plant-based complete proteins, as it contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need from food.”

Walnut – This nut is shaped like a brain for a reason as it is one of the best foods to enhance cognitive function. Walnuts are loaded with omega-3 essential fatty acids one of the most important brain nutrients. In addition, they also contain melatonin which regulates your sleep-wake cycle; vitamin E to help prevent oxidative stress; and the amino acid L-arginine which helps support proper circulation. 

Cashew – High in a list of nutrients, cashews are an excellent source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids which may help your heart health. They contain potassium, magnesium (to prevent stroke), lutein and zeaxanthin (for eye health), and vitamin K which is a rare nutrient found in food. Cashew milk is high in good fat mentioned here but could be more fattening to your waist.  

Rice – Although not a nut, rice milk needs mentioning as it is a very popular brand of non-dairy milk. It is a good source of B vitamins, low in fat, contains a good amount of antioxidants, particularly manganese and selenium which may also help regulate weight management. 

When choosing your milk, mix it up. Just drinking one choice could be robbing you of so many beneficial health opportunities. With today’s choices on the market, there are many ways you can experiment for the optimal choice that fits your life and enhances your future health.