Store shelves these days are overflowing with non-dairy milk options, including soy milk, almond milk and rice milk. These milks can help you load up on protein and skip the digestive issues that sometimes come along with cow's milk. But with so many choices, how can you know which ones to pick to get the biggest health benefit? Use these non-dairy milk guidelines the next time you're at the store to make the healthiest, tastiest choices for you and your family.
Soy milk has the highest amount of protein of any non-dairy milk. To get the best-quality protein, be sure to pick organic soy milk. Add it to your morning coffee to get a protein boost and kick-start your metabolism. Since soy milk can have a slightly bitter taste, adding it to a drink like tea or coffee can help blend the flavor.
Out of the non-dairy milks, almond milk is lowest in calories. Although it doesn't contain nearly as much protein, it is rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium and vitamin E. In fact, one cup of unsweetened almond milk contains only 30 calories, but 50% of your daily vitamin E requirement. Almond milk has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and goes well with cereals. To maximize the health benefits, you should opt for unsweetened almond milk. And if you go for a flavored almond milk, make sure it has less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
Rice milk tends to be a good choice for people prone to allergies, as it has the lowest allergy risk of the non-dairy milks. Rice milk is also naturally sweet and doesn't usually have added sugars or a bitter taste. Since it doesn't have an overly creamy texture, it's particularly good to use as the base of a smoothie. When you're buying rice milk, check the label to make sure that it doesn't contain added thickeners like xanthan gum, which can cause digestive issues.
These non-dairy milks are all filling, healthy options to add to any meal or snack. But if cow's milk doesn't give you problems and you like it, go ahead and stick with it. Make sure you pick milk that is "fortified" or "enriched" with important vitamins and minerals, and choose organic 2% milk to get the most filling effect without the risk of potentially dangerous hormones.