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Choosing Milk Alternatives

a glass of milk and almonds on a table

Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk products and requires the enzyme lactase to be digested properly. At least 60 percent of the population lacks adequate amounts of this enzyme and may experience unpleasant symptoms after consuming dairy products, such as bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits. Luckily, there are a variety of delicious, nutrient- packed milk alternatives available for those of us with lactose intolerance or milk allergies. Make sure to purchase unsweetened to avoid excess sugar intake.

Here are some healthy and tasty options:

Lactaid milk

Produced by adding the lactase enzyme to cow’s milk so that it is more digestible. It contains all the nutrients found in regular milk, such as calcium, Vitamins A, D and B12, potassium, riboflavin and 8 grams of protein. Note: This product is not dairy-free and should be avoided in those with a milk allergy.

Soy milk

Made by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water and typically some sugar. A good source of protein (7 grams per cup), heart-healthy omega-3s, and fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Almond milk

Made from ground almonds and filtered water. Thin in texture and nutty in taste, this milk contains antioxidant rich vitamin E and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D for a serious nutrition boost. Though heart healthy, it contains less protein than other alternative milk varieties (1gram per cup). Purchase a protein-fortified version for 5 grams of protein per cup.

Hemp milk

Made from hemp seeds that are soaked and ground into water, producing creamy, nutty milk. Hemp milk is a great source of essential fatty acids and contains a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega- 6 fatty acids, in addition to powerful antioxidants. Contains 2 grams of protein per cup.

Coconut milk

Liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. Fortified with vitamin D and vitamin A and also contains lauric acid, which is involved in reducing inflammation. Coconut milk has a creamy texture and distinctive tropical flavor, however is higher in saturated fat than other milk alternatives and naturally contains less than 1 gram of protein.

Oat milk

Made from oats and has an earthy, sweet taste. Good source of protein (4 grams per cup) and fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A. Oat milk tends to be higher in sugar than other dairy-free products due to its natural starch content.

Rice milk

A mixture of partially milled rice and water. Rice milk has a thin texture and sweet flavor that works well in dessert recipes. It is also lower in protein (<1gram per cup) than most alternative milk products.

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