To milk or mylk? That is the question

We're lifting the lids on the nutritional benefits of five alternatives to the standard glass of milk.

From fan favourite almond to lesser known walnut, weekend markets and health-conscious cafés are bursting with plant-free, dairy-free alternatives to heed the call of the lactose intolerant. And while plant-based milks will never quite measure up to the original moo juice (with its nine essential vitamins and minerals and eight grams of protein per cup), it’s still worth getting clued up on the varying textures, tastes and nutrient profiles – low in fat, high in protein or brimming with calcium – to identify which one is a worthy addition to meet your needs.

ALMOND MILK
Derived from the blending of raw almonds soaked overnight in water, the unsweetened version of this nutty milk is a calorie counter’s dream, containing a mere 125 kilojoules per cup.
Pros: High in calcium. Free of saturated fat and cholesterol.Good source of vitamin E and magnesium. Low in calories.
Cons: Very low in protein. Usually comes with added preservatives and thickeners.

SOY MILK
Extracted from mature soy beans, choose the unflavoured option since the flavouring process reduces the protein content per 30 grams. Also always make sure it’s organic, as pesticide use is common.
Pros: Free of saturated fat and cholesterol. Rich in high quality protein. Fortified with calcium, vitamin D, A and B vitamins, riboflavin and phosphorus. Provides potassium. Source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Cons: Possible negative impact on fertility in men. Rumoured to negatively impact thyroid hormone production. Not as effective in increasing lean muscle mass in athletes compared to milk protein. Can contain large amounts of sugar.

RICE MILK
Created from partially milled rice and water, rice milk is a good option for those who can’t drink nut, soy or cow’s milk.
Pros: Free of saturated fat and cholesterol. Least likely to trigger allergies. Enriched with calcium, vitamin D and B vitamins.
Cons: Next to no protein.

COCONUT MILK
To make coconut milk, the coconut flesh must be finely grated and steeped in hot water and then squeezed through a cheesecloth.
Pros: High in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that energise the body. Rumoured to benefit cognitive disorders and improve memory. High in minerals and vitamins. Low in carbs, cholesterol and sodium.
Cons: High in calories. Low in protein. Not suitable for those suffering from IBS, IBD or fructose malabsorption. Flavour can be overpowering.

WALNUT MILK
Made in a similar way to almond milk, walnut milk is a tasty, health providing addition to smoothies.
Pros: High in omega 3 fatty acids. High levels of antioxidants. High in the amino acid tryptophan which helps make the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin.
Cons: Low in protein.

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