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The things you should consider when looking for a plant-based milk alternative

For a few years now, demand for alternatives to dairy milk has been increasing. 

Whether it’s for health purposes or environmental concerns, more and more people – vegans, vegetarians or simply flexitarians – are replacing cow’s milk with: soy milk, nut milk, coconut milk, oat milk, legume milk, etc. 

But how do you choose a plant-based milk? 

Here are some facts you may or may not be aware of regarding non dairy milk options but should think of when standing in front of the dairy and non-dairy sections of your supermarket.

The goal of this list isn’t to scare you, it is just to inform you that plant-based milk doesn’t necessarily mean it’s MAGICAL for your health.

1. What’s the real quantity of nuts?

Some of you will be quite surprised by this fact – some might even be angry, we’re sorry 😕. In many cases, commercial almond milks contain just 2% of almonds… the rest being a mix of oils, sugar, gums, water and other additives. You’re basically paying for a pint of nut flavored water. As much as possible, try to figure out what’s the percent of nuts in your nut milk to find a worthwhile option.

2. Nebulous effects of soy

Research about the consequences of soy on the human health is controversial: some studies say it can create hormone imbalance, especially on men as it can affect their testosterone levels and can even cause some cancers. Other studies say these allegations cannot be proven… Mystery, mystery, mystery.

3. Is it filled with weird stuff?

As we said, some options only contain 2% of almonds which means they are filled with other stuff to compensate; to improve their texture, taste and nutritional value. Some brands will add natural additives that are not harmful. But some choose to add different artificial additives – which side effects remain unclear. The most known and controversial additive is carrageenan gum, a thickener that may act as an inflammatory and toxin for our gut. As is the case for soy, these results have been put into question… But you know, when in doubt, just avoid it and find something that doesn’t contain any carrageenan.

4. What about GMOs?

Many soy milks have been shown to be full of GMOs. Genetically modified organisms have been found to be very unhealthy and toxic for the environment – you can learn more about the subject via this interesting article of Responsible Technology right here. So, if you really want to consume soy milk, it’s best to choose something organic. 

5. Let’s talk nutrition…

Soy milk is the option which is most similar to cow’s milk when we consider nutritional qualities, such as the levels of protein and calcium. Nut milks that contain only 2% of nuts cannot compete, having only 1g of protein per cup (in comparison, cow’s milk contains 8g per cup). If you really want nut over soy, you should look for an option using the most nuts, in order to gain the best nutritional value.

6. And the least caloric of them all?

If you want something less caloric and with less carbs, nut milks are your best option among all plant-based milks.

7. No added sugar, please

Lots of them contain added sugar. The thing with many non dairy milks, is a lot of them taste quite bad plain. Companies add flavorings and sweeteners in them in order to compensate for the poor taste. Plus, people tend to love things that are sweet… However, that makes for a higher caloric milk and that results in a not so super healthy drink.

8. Homemade’s always best

Even though it takes more time than going to the store, homemade milks are often much healthier than the ones you may find on the market. If you make nut milk, you’ll use a higher quantity of nuts than most commercial nut milks brands and you’ll have a more nutritious beverage. 

If one statement could explain everything I just said, it’d be “The least processed, the best!” 

By Cloé Lachapelle


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