Go to the dairy aisle at any store and two-thirds of the milk choices are made up of milk alternatives. Some of them are delicious, but do all these choices do the body good?
Why Drink Milk?
Milk is known best for it’s calcium. Calcium is not only an essential part of bone maintenance, but it is also essential for energy metabolism, blood pressure control, muscle contraction and hormonal action. A glass of milk delivers up to 30% of your daily calcium needs. Milk alternatives do have calcium added, but make sure it’s calcium carbonate since it is the best one absorbed. And not all milk alternatives deliver as much calcium as milk as you can see in the label below.
Milk is a good source of protein. Eight ounces of milk delivers more grams of protein than an egg or ounce of meat or fish. As you can see below, soy milk also delivers almost as much protein, but the protein from milk – whey and casein – is a complete protein, delivering all the essential amino acids the body needs to repair and make new cells. Soy is a complete protein but there is some evidence that it’s bio-availability is not as good as whey.
Comparison Of Milk To Milk Alternatives
In the label below you can see the almond milk delivers the fewest amount of calories, fat, carbs and protein, but the most calcium, in the form of calcium carbonate, compared to the others. The coconut milk delivers the most fat, zero protein and only 10% of the RDA of calcium, in the less desired form, calcium phosphate. The soy milk delivers a similar amount of calories, protein and calcium as cow’s milk, and does have fewer carbs than cow’s milk. Soy milk has a bit more fat than skim milk, albeit the heart-healthy kind. This soy milk is sweetened with a bit of cane sugar to make up for lack of sweet-tasting lactose that is naturally found in milk. If you want a milk alternative, soy milk is probably the best substitute to cow’s milk, but check the label for the amount of added sugar.
Make Sure Your Milk Alternative Is Doing Your Body Good
Our body performs its best when it gets all the nutrients it needs. Much of what goes in our mouth now impacts the quality of life way in the future. Making sure you are getting enough calcium is probable the most important reason to drink at least two to three servings of milk a day. There are other good sources of calcium – sardines, salmon and leafy greens, to name a few – but make sure you are getting the recommended amount based on your age. Getting enough calcium for your bones will help you moo-ving along easily in the future.