What is the best non-dairy milk alternative?

“Soy and nut milks have a healthier fat profile than cow’s milk,” says Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Coconut milk, like cow’s milk, is high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels. Soy milk and the various nut milks with no added sugar — such as almond, walnut, peanut, cashew, hazelnut or macadamia milk — as well as hemp and flax milks contain more heart-healthy unsaturated fats and also have fewer calories than cow’s milk. Oat milk, with no added sugars, is high in fiber and calories are comparable to cow’s milk.

Soy milk is one of the few non-dairy products that matches the eight grams of protein per cup of cow’s milk. But protein deficiency is not a problem in the United States, said Dr. Willett, especially for adults. However, if you want to get a significant amount of protein from milk, check the labels on the various products, as the amounts vary widely between the cow’s milk alternatives.

Both Ms. Romano and Dr. Willett also suggest checking labels to look for alternatives fortified with calcium and vitamin D, which can help with bone health. “We definitely need vitamin D,” said Dr. Willett, though we probably don’t need the high levels of calcium that many Americans think they need. “Looking directly at dairy, we don’t see that high dairy consumption lowers the breakage rate in terms of evidence,” he said.

They also advise watching out for lots of added sugars in flavored milk alternatives. Ideally, there should be no added sugar in the product, but generally aim for less than 10 grams per serving.

One last consideration: the planet. “It’s important right now to look at everything through both a health lens and an environmental lens,” said Dr. Willett. Dairy production is linked to high greenhouse gas emissions and requires a lot of water. “So alternative milks are desirable for the ecological footprint.”

Sophie Egan is the author of “How to Be a Conscious Eater: Making Food Choices That Are Good for You, Others, and the Planet” (Workman, 2020).

This post What is the best non-dairy milk alternative?

was original published at “https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/well/eat/lactose-intolerant-non-dairy-milk.html”