Let the great debate begin! People have been arguing on both sides, good and bad, in regards to non-dairy milks. Some love it and others are cautious consuming the tasty alternatives. Learning more about the most popular non-dairy milk products will help you decide which side you feel most comfortable with and if you choose to add it to your diet. As the debate goes on you will feel more secure with your choice and decision about non-dairy milks.
Soya milk, also known as soy milk has been a first choice for many people worldwide who are lactose intolerant or following a specific diet. Soya milk has a variety of benefits including lowering bad cholesterol levels, protecting your blood vessels from free radicals, increasing chances for weight loss, preventing osteoporosis, post-menopausal syndromes and prostate cancer. Soya milk also offers a comparable amount of protein to cow's milk. Like everything else in the world, there is good and bad and soya milk is no different. While it does provide a variety of health benefits, it also has a down side that everyone should understand. Firstly, as with any food you consume, there is the risk of allergic reaction. At times the proteins in soya milk may cause a reaction ranging from mild to serious. Soya milk contains isoflavones which could be linked to low sperm concentration. In addition, it contains phytoestrogen, which is similar to estrogen, which can be responsible for developing hormone related cancers such as breast cancer. Last but not least, if you live in the US most of the soya crops are genetically modified, so do your research and try to always go for an organic version. My personal favourite is Provamel Natural Soya Milk
This delicious, low- calorie alternative to cow’s milk, with it's subtle nutty flavour is a popular choice for many consumers. The health benefits include weight management, prevention of heart disease, glowing skin, strong bones and improved muscle strength. Since almond milk is created by grinding up almonds and adding water, it can cause allergic reactions to those who are allergic to almonds or other tree nuts. Almond milk is delicious and works well in hot and cold drinks, porridge, cooking, baking or on its own straight from the jar. Here is my homemade almond milk recipe.
- 1 cup of raw, unsalted almonds
- Start by soaking the almonds overnight in cold water or for a couple of hours in hot boiled water. In the morning rinse them before popping in your food processor and blend with 3 cups of fresh water.
- Next, strain through a muslin cloth, tea towel or a nut bag. Squeeze the towel gently to get all the milk out. Sometimes I add a couple of Medjool dates, vanilla extract or cinnamon for a bit of flavour, but that's entirely up to you.
- Once finished store in a screw top jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
First let’s clear up a misunderstanding with coconut milk. It is often confused with coconut water. These two products are different and the following details only apply to coconut milk. The milk is created from the flesh of the coconut by grating it and soaking it in hot water. The cream of the coconut rises to the top and removed carefully. A cheese cloth is also used to extract the coconut milk during the process. The great news about coconut milk is that it contains vitamin B, C and E which aids in keeping your body healthy. In addition it also has antioxidants and has the ability to lower the risk of heart disease. Coconut is terrific in a variety of ways and I personally find it the best alternative to cows milk for your cup of tea or coffee. Here is my own recipe for coconut milk, it is lovely and froths up really well.
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (I used Coconut Merchant)
3 cups water
Start with boiling the water. In the meantime put the desiccated coconut into a high speed blender and pulse a few times. Let the boiling water cool down slightly before gradually adding it to the blender. Add 1 cup at a time and pulse. Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy. The last thing to do is strain the milk through a towel or cheesecloth to get any remaining pieces of coconut out. You have now created coconut milk, which can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Hemp Seed Milk
Hemp Seed Milk, one of the best sources of omega-3s is created from hemp seeds and water. This combination results in a milk that has a variety of health benefits such as improvement in circulation, healthy heart function, a strong immune system, increased mental capacity, healthy hair and nails, plus clear skin. Hemp Seed milk has a nutty flavor and is easier to digest than soya milk. I mostly use it in smoothies, which helps to tame its earthy taste. The down side of consuming hemp seed milk is the risk of an allergic reaction. As with any food when first consuming a new product, do it with caution. My personal favourite is Good Hemp Milk
Cashew Nut Milk
Let’s start off by stating that anyone allergic to tree nuts or cashew nuts should not consume this milk. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, especially when related to tree nut allergies. Cashews are a high calorie food and therefore can result in weight gain if consumed in large amounts on a regular basis. The good news about cashew nut milk is that it is a tasty alternative to dairy milk. Cashew nut milk is packed full of beneficial nutrients and minerals. This flavorsome milk provides health benefits such as improved heart health, less risk of stroke or heart attack and improved digestion. My favourite one is Provamel Cashew nut milk, but I drink it in moderation only because it is sweetened with agave syrup. By the way,It makes amazing porridge!
Rice milk is not suitable for those who are diabetic. Rice milk is starchy and negatively impacts sugar levels. Now that the bad side of rice milk is out of the way, let’s focus on the good facts. Rice milk lacks saturated fat and cholesterol, is a good source of B vitamins and has plenty of antioxidants that will help keep your immune system strong. Rice milk is hypoallergenic, so good for those with sensitive stomachs, allergies or GI (Gastro Intestinal) issues. My favourite rice milk is Rice Dream Original Organic, truly delicious and the whole family loves it!
Oat Milk is a popular vegan alternative to dairy milk. It is naturally creamy and sweet and an excellent choice for those who suffer from nut or soya allergies and who are unable to consume other non-dairy milks. Oat Milk is created from soaked oak groates. It has a mild taste with a touch of sweetness that makes this milk easy to enjoy. Oat Milk has calcium, minerals, vitamins, is low in fat and lactose free. It is also cholesterol free and is heart healthy. The negative effects of oat milk are almost none, but I know it can sometimes cause bloating and gas. My personal favourite Is Oatly Organic Oat Drink, yummyyyyy
This 100% dairy-free milk is made from coconuts. It is also wheat, gluten and nut free, so it is a great option for those who have allergic reactions to other milk that contain those products. In fact It doesn’t even have refined sugars. Rebel Mylk tastes great and comes in a variety of flavors including chocolate, chai, green tea, banana and orange-chocolate. Your children will love the flavours too! Definitively a must try! I love their Chai flavour and use it for my Chai chia pudding.
One more thing to mention when choosing the best non-dairy milk, always check the label and read the ingredients. If you see Carrageenan also known as E407 please try to avoid it. It is a thickening and stabilising agent derived from red seaweed that is known for causing inflammation in you tract.
The debate about non-dairy milks will rage on for many years to come. However, after understanding each alternative you are sure to know where you stand and what products you would like to include in your diet. Remember that cow's milk contains hormones that are either naturally produced by dairy cows or synthetic hormones given to them during their lifetime. These hormones can have a negative effect on your health, so considering non-dairy milks is in the interest of those who do not wish to consume potentially harmful hormones. Choose your favorite non-dairy milk today and enjoy a healthy life! Don't forget to let me know which one is your favourite!