Whether you're lactose intolerant, vegan or simply interested in consuming an alternative to cow's milk, there are several milk alternatives you can choose from. The three most popular choices are almond, soy and rice milk. Here's how these three measure up against one another.
One of the most important nutritional benefits we get from drinking dairy milk is calcium. According to Osteoporosis Canada, women need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily (more if you're between the ages of 9 to 19 or over 50). A glass of dairy milk contains 300 milligrams of calcium. Of the three alternatives, soy contains the most calcium, but at about 50 milligrams of calcium in a glass, it's a paltry amount compared to dairy milk. Rice and almond milk each contain only about 1 to 2 milligrams of calcium. So if you're drinking these alternatives, be sure to supplement and look for additional calcium sources in your diet, as neither rice, soy nor almond milk will provide your recommended daily allowance.
That said, if your alternative is fortified with calcium and vitamin D (and many of them are), then you are likely getting the same amount that dairy milk would provide your body.
Soy milk and almond milk contain almost the same amount of protein as dairy milk, whereas rice milk comes in last in protein content.
When it comes to the flavour of these alternatives, almond milk is perhaps the most pleasing to the palate, due to its delicate, nutty flavour. Soy milk has a taste you may have to become accustomed to over time; you may even find it tastes like vegetables. Keep in mind that the taste can vary quite a bit from brand to brand, so be sure to try a few varieties before making your decision. One advantage of soy milk over the other alternatives? You can easily use it as a substitute for dairy milk when baking. Rice milk too may have a flavour profile that takes some getting used to — it is thinner and can seem somewhat sweet and unnatural when you taste it for the first time. Almond milk is thicker and creamier than the other two, and it too can easily be used in baking. Plus, given it's texture, it can be subbed in for dairy milk when blending up a smoothie.
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