What You Need to Know About Milk Alternatives

Cow's milk isn't the only type of milk that's truly healthy! There are a number of milk alternatives that deserve a place on your shelf and in your fridge. They may not be as delicious as regular whole fat milk, but they offer a wide range of health benefits that make them a worthy addition to your daily diet. Here is what you need to know about milk alternatives:

Cashew Milk

Similar to almond milk, cashew milk is made from cashew nuts. It's really more a "milk-like" liquid made by soaking and pressing the nuts. It's loaded with calcium for your bones, as well as Vitamin A for healthy eyes and skin. It is a very low-fat milk alternative, and it's low on carbs so it won't cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Sadly, it contains very little in the way of protein.

Skim Milk

Skim milk is an alternative to the classic whole fat milk, and though it may still come from cows, it contains far less fat per serving than whole milk. You still get all the protein and many of the nutrients, along with fewer calories. It may not taste as delicious as regular milk, it's a good option to consider if you're looking to trim calories and fat from your diet.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is a nut-based liquid, one that is often fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. Your body needs Vitamin D in order to absorb the calcium you eat, and the mixture of these two nutrients makes the almond milk bioavailable. It's a good milk alternative for those who are lactose-intolerant, as well as for those who want to avoid soy products. It may not contain as much protein as soy or cow's milk, but it's a fairly low-calorie milk alternative.

Soy Milk

The original milk alternative, soy milk is one of the best ways to get protein if you can't drink cow's milk. You get 8 grams of protein per serving, along with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D (which are added to "fortify" the milk). Soy does have its downsides: it contains phytoestrogens that can mess with your hormonal balance, it can cause allergic reactions, and it's often GMO. However, if you're trying to avoid cow's milk, soy milk may be the way to go.

Rice Milk

If you are looking for a non-nut/dairy/soy milk product, rice milk is definitely the way to go! It's very low in protein (just 1 gram per serving), but it contains a good deal of added Vitamin D and calcium for your bones. It's an easily absorbed and digested milk, and contains other vital minerals: phosphorus, magnesium, B vitamins, and manganese. You'll find that it's vegan and vegetarian-friendly, and a great option for those who are allergic to nuts, dairy, and soy products.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is probably the best-tasting of all the milk alternatives. You can't help but love that rich, coconutty flavor, which will remind you of a tropical beach or a pleasant holiday. It has a lot of saturated fat, but it's also packed with unsaturated fatty acids that can improve your heart health. It's great for lowering your cholesterol, fighting hypertension, and reducing your risk of heart disease. The milk is packed with a wide range of vitamins and minerals: Vitamins C and E, multiple B Vitamins, Vitamin D, selenium, phosphorus, iron, and even calcium. You'll find that there are many sweetened varieties, but you can always find plain coconut milk if you want the protein and fats without all the sugar.

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