Whether you’re blending a smoothie or enjoying a bowl of cereal, you’re probably reaching for a carton of non-dairy milk. The grocery aisle now boasts many different types of milk besides just dairy and soy. Why pick one type over another? Use this as your definitive guide to non-dairy milks.
Almond milk is one of the lowest calorie non-dairy milks, and has a creamy, nutty taste. Look for unsweetened varieties in the grocery store. You can also easily make your own almond milk by soaking raw almonds for 8 hours, and then puréeing them in a high-speed blender. Press out the pulp in a strainer or cheesecloth and pure almond milk remains (then use the pulp in cookies!).
The type of coconut milk you find in a refrigerated carton is not the same as canned coconut milk. The type you would use in a smoothie or on cereal is lower in calories and fat than canned versions. Coconut milk is higher in saturated fat than other types of non-dairy milk, but most of this saturated fat is in the form of Medium Chain Triglycerides—which burn like carbohydrates for energy.1
Hemp milk is made from shelled hemp seeds, and contains small amounts of Omega-3s. It has a nuttier taste than almond milk, but is a great base for smoothies or non-dairy puddings.
With a light taste, not too different from water, rice milk is a great option if you have multiple food sensitivities or allergies. Rice milk is higher in carbohydrates than most other non-dairy milks, so it can make a good pre-workout beverage.
Many people avoid soy milk because they have a sensitivity or fear of it. If you enjoy the smooth taste and high protein content of soy milk, but sure to choose organic and non-GMO verified soy milk (soy is a common genetically modified crop).
Next time you whip up a smoothie (or pour a cup of coffee) consider trying a new non-dairy milk. With new varieties appearing on the market (quinoa and flaxseed milk are starting to make their debut) the possibilities are endless.
1. Clegg, ME. (2010). Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 61(7): 653–679