Like Milk? There Are Many Options Available
Paired with your favorite cookie, a splash in your coffee, or straight from the carton, milk is a nutritious and refreshing beverage.
Most of us grew up on traditional cow’s milk. In today’s world, many more options are available to satisfy taste, provide options for those with a dairy allergy/intolerance, or suit those who choose not to consume animal products.
Walk into a grocery store and you’ll find a host of options available including almond, soy, cashew, hemp, oat, coconut, flax, rice and goat milks.
While you may want to just skip milk and get your calcium and vitamin D from a pill, Cathy Jo Tooley, Registered Dietitian with Avera Medical Group Gastroenterology, hopes you’ll consider otherwise. “If possible, it’s always better to get your nutrients from food sources rather than a pill.”
However, sometimes this isn’t possible. “For example, those with lactose intolerance are not able to produce the enzyme lactase which is needed for lactose digestion,” explained Tooley. “Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. When people with lactose intolerance eat dairy, they might experience diarrhea, bloating, stomach cramps and gas.”
If you’re interested in trying the milk spectrum, keep Tooley’s recommendations in mind:
- If you’re lactose intolerant, choose a lactose-free option. Some lactose-free milks are made from cow’s milk but they have an enzyme added so the lactose is already broken down.
- If you have a dairy allergy, avoid cow’s milk or any kind of dairy products.
- If you have diabetes and want to avoid lactose/dairy, choose milk that has a lower amount of carbs.
- If you need to increase protein in your diet, try drinking cow’s milk or soy milk.
- If you need a heart-healthy option, choose skim or 1 percent.
- If you or your child doesn’t like the taste of cow’s milk, many plant milks are vanilla flavored.
- Your body needs vitamin D in order for calcium to be absorbed, so look for options fortified with both calcium and vitamin D.
For a quicker look, Tooley conveniently broke down your milk options even further. The list provides averages based on the type of milk. Be sure to check the food label as some calories/protein/carbs may vary based on the company making the product.