Milk has always been considered an important component of a healthy diet, but increasingly we hear  more and more evidence that milk may be the cause of all sorts of digestive problems and allergies. This has resulted in an increasing abundance of alternatives…..just take a look in the milk aisle of your local Supermarket the next time you visit.

Lets look at some facts….

Milk and dairy products are nutrient-rich and healthy foods that serve as good sources of Vitamin D and calcium. They also contain high levels of potassium, phosphorous, Vitamins B12, A, magnesium, and riboflavin. Although the calcium present in cheese, yogurt and milk is an important source , for those that are dairy intolerant other sources need to be found.  Dark green leafy vegetables are calcium rich and Vitamin D can be  found in  eggs, meat and fish . So a healthy diet is key for not missing out nutritionally if you wish or need to avoid milk and dairy. There are dairy alternatives, which are  of course especially vital for people with cow’s milk allergies. The information presented below will shed light on some of the health and nutritional benefits of milk as well as different dairy alternatives.

Some primary benefits of milk and dairy foods

• The calcium present in milk is in a form that the body can absorb and utilize easily. For this reason, dairy products are economical and reliable calcium sources.

• A fruits and vegetables-rich diet incorporating low-fat dairy products is effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive people. Such a diet also reduces the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases.

• Dairy products are rich in Vitamin D and protein, which help in promoting bone health and maintaining strong bones.

• Milk products like yogurt are rich in probiotics, which have a wide range of health benefits. A diet rich in probiotics helps in enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system as well as improving health and minimising the risk of some diseases.

Benefits of different dairy alternatives

Cow’s milk was the only milk option available some few years back. People had the option of solely choosing between regular old or cream milk. Unfortunately, there are some people who dislike the taste or even smell of milk. If you fall in this category, worry not since there are other alternatives. Several plant-derived alternatives to dairy milk are present in the markets. These options include rice, almonds, soya, coconut, and even hemp-based milk. Over the last few years, these dairy alternatives have gained popularity. For instance, between 2011 and 2013 their sales have gone up by 30%. There is a high probability that the consumption of dairy alternatives will be higher than dairy consumption in the future.

Almond Milk

Almond-MilkThe popularity of almond milk has skyrocketed in the last few years. This milk is considered a healthier alternative to soya milk and cow’s milk. The nutritional benefit is that the calories present in this type of milk are fewer than those present in soya. It has a high content of vitamins A, D, and E. Moreover, it neither contains cholesterol nor saturated fat. The texture and taste of this milk make it a worthwhile alternative to cow’s milk. You can obtain approximately 25% of the daily vitamin D recommendation, and close to 50% vitamin E requirement from almond milk. A key drawback of this dairy alternative is its low protein content. It is, therefore, necessary for lovers of almond milk to add extra protein sources to their normal diet.

 

Coconut Milk
The liquid extracted from grated brown coconut meat is the coconut milk. This milk has a high content of oil, which gives it a rich colour and coconut-Milktexture. Coconut milk is also rich in iron and fibre. Iron is an essential nutrient in haemoglobin formation, an essential blood component while fibre improves digestion.  Contrary to cow’s milk, coconut milk does not contain lactose. Hence, it would serve as a perfect nutritional alternative for people with lactose intolerance. So, if you are a fan of coconut taste, you should include a little coconut milk in your diet. You just need to remember that this milk has the least calcium content in comparison to other dairy alternatives.

Soya Milk

To produce soya milk, you need to soak dry beans, then grind them using water. This milk type is protein-rich substitute of cow’s milk. However, it is deficient in calcium. When buying this milk alternative, it is advisable for you to opt for the organic, unflavoured soya milk to help in the preservation of the protein present. In comparison to cow’s milk, soya milk has a higher content of vitamin B. Consuming this type of milk gives you 10% of the daily folic acid requirement. Despite these major benefits of soya milk, you should beware of the fact that non-dairy consumers suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or gastritis may experience bloating following soya intake.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is not as popular as almond or coconut milk but is also a dairy alternative. It has a creamy taste and serves as a perfect low-calorie addition to many recipes. Similar to almond milk, cashew milk is rich in calcium. Thus, it is an appropriate source of calcium for people avoiding milk products. Unfortunately, this type of milk does not contain protein, which would necessitate you to supplement extra protein to your diet.

Rice Milk

There are more calories in original rice milk compared to other dairy alternatives excluding whole milk. The amount of sugar is also naturally high in this type of milk. This milk is the least popular since its consumption is rare. It seems to contain the least nutritional benefits in comparison to other alternatives. However, this could be the sole option for people allergic to multiple foods.

In conclusion, when making a choice on the type of milk to consume, it all boils down to taste preference. This preference differs from one person to the other. If you are not allergic to these products, you can choose to include them in your diet for optimal health and nutritional benefits.

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