If you're considering giving up dairy products, either for ethical considerations or because of sensitivity to milk or
its components, the choice has never been easier. With an abundance of milk substitutes made from ingredients such as
soybeans, oats, rice, and almonds, you won't have to forgo cereal—or any of your other favorite milk pairings.
From nonfat versions to coffee creamers, and from plain to chocolate flavored, nondairy milk comes in many varieties.
And some of its benefits may surprise you. Soymilk, for example, contains isoflavones, which some research suggests
can help protect against cancer, maintain bone health, and help prevent menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. It
also contains the most protein of the nondairy alternatives. Debra Boutin, an associate professor at the School of
Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University in Seattle, says that almond milk is a good source of vitamin E,
a heart-healthy antioxidant. And many nondairy milks are fortified with nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Best
of all, they are naturally low in fat and are cholesterol free.
Going dairy free may be the healthiest choice you can make. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine links
the consumption of dairy products with heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and other health concerns.
Nondairy milk can almost always be substituted for cow's milk: Try it on cereal, drink it straight from a glass, or
use it in baking. But not all varieties work equally well in all circumstances. Rice and oat milk, for example, tend
to be sweeter and thinner than soymilk, so aren't favored for creamy sauces. And consistency and flavor can vary from
brand to brand. When it comes to nondairy milk, taste preferences may be your best guide.
"Try different brands to find one you like, mix up the types of nondairy milk you use, and read labels to make sure
you have a balance of the nutrients you need," Boutin says.
Shake It Up
Whether you suffer from milk sensitivity, have an all-out allergy, or simply choose not to consume animal products,
there are plenty of options when it comes to milk alternatives. Here are some of the most common dairy-free products
available at most natural food stores and some supermarkets.
The most protein-rich nondairy milk; usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D. 1 cup soymilk contains 30 mg of
Low in fat and easy to digest; rice allergy is uncommon.
Not a nutrient-rich source but often fortified with calcium and vitamins D and B12; usually sweetened.
OAT OR MULTIGRAIN
Has slightly more protein than rice and almond milk; low in fat. Not as healthy as eating whole grains; may contain
Low in fat; usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Not an option for those allergic to nuts.