There are so many varieties of milk alternatives available today from soy, almond, oat, rice, coconut, macadamia etc. When deciding on a milk alternative it’s important to know what to look for in order to make the best choice.
Why choose a milk alternative?
There are many reasons why people might choose to drink a milk alternative whether that be because milk doesn’t quite agree with your gut or you’re choosing to follow a vegan diet. Some people lack an enzyme called lactase within their gut that is responsible for breaking down the lactose in milk. This is known as lactose intolerance. Common symptoms include bloating and diarrhoea.
What are the options?
A FODMAP friendly choice. It isn’t as creamy as cows milk or soy milk and has a distinct flavour, much like marzipan. This flavour makes it a great addition to bowls or smoothies like this strawberry, blueberry and lime smoothie. It’s available at most cafes and supermarkets these days with a range of brands and even flavours available such as chocolate almond milk, perfect for a hot choc!
Soy milk can be made two ways. One method is by using the soy protein, the other method is with using the soya bean. Only soy milk made from soy protein is FODMAP friendly. Soy does have a distinct flavour so can be an acquired taste. However, it is readily available and affordable. The nutritional profile is similar to that of cow’s milk, just be sure to choose one fortified with calcium.
Lactose-free milk is cows milk which has had the lactase enzyme added. This means that the lactose has already been broken down prior to drinking it, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance. Because it is cows milk, it’s nutritional profile is the same as regular cows milk and it tastes almost the same, just a tad sweeter.
Macadamia milk is slightly creamier than almond and doesn’t have as distinct a flavour. It can be harder to find in supermarkets and is often more costly than other milk alternatives.
Unfortunately, it’s not the most FODMAP friendly choice. In fact, the serving size of oat milk is only 125ml when on a FODMAP diet. It lacks a distinct flavour making it much more versatile than the nut and soy varieties. It also lacks a creamy texture and milky colour making your cuppa look a little darker than usual.
This milk alternative has a distinct flavour, it tastes like coconut! However, again a FODMAP friendly serve of coconut milk is a smaller serving size (125ml) than the other milk alternatives. So instead of making a smoothie with it or using it for your extra-large latte, perhaps try using it in baking instead.
Again a low FODMAP serve size of rice milk is lower than other options (200ml). Flavour-wise, it is sweeter than other varieties which makes it great for baking, cereal or overnight oats. Try this berry pancakes recipe with rice milk instead of almond.
What about cooking?
As mentioned, lactose-free behaves and tastes just like milk because it is! This makes it the best choice for cooking with but is not suitable for those wanting a plant-based alternative. Some of the varieties mentioned above have distinct flavours such as almond, macadamia, coconut and soy making them more difficult to cook with. Oat and rice milk have the least flavour making them more suitable for cooking and baking. Almond and soy also have a much lower boiling point meaning they can split and curdle when heated. So if you like your coffee extra hot steer clear of these milk varieties and instead opt for rice and lactose-free.
What should I look for?
The most important thing to remember when choosing a milk alternative is to choose one with the closest nutrient profile to cows milk. Cows milk is a great source of protein and calcium assisting to keep your bones healthy, so ensuring the milk alternative you choose is similar nutritionally to that of cows will mean you won’t miss out on these important nutrients in your diet.
Look for around 3g per 100ml on the nutrition information panel.
Look for around 120mg per 100ml. Also, ensure the milk is fortified with “Calcium Phosphate” in the ingredients list.
Choose unsweetened varieties. Look for the words “Unsweetened” on the packaging or look for no more than 5g of sugar on the nutrition information panel.
Most importantly pick the one you enjoy the most!!
Image sourced from Unsplash.