Do you still keep cow’s milk in the fridge? Most of us do, but with so many milk substitutes now readily available, it’s no longer just vegans or those with an intolerance trying something different.
For many, it’s become a positive lifestyle – and health – choice.
For example, did you know that swapping soya milk into your diet can help reduce the symptoms of perimenopause?
While many people think that they need dairy products for calcium, a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that only about 32 percent of the calcium in cow’s milk is absorbed by the body.
So is it time for you to switch?
Here are some of the milk substitutes available and their benefits.
The most well-known milk substitute, soya is close in protein content to cow’s milk. It also provides potassium and is lower in sugar and fat than dairy, as long as you buy the unsweetened varieties.
Plus the nutty, creamy taste is good in cooking, on cereals and in coffee.
Soya can be a useful addition to your diet during perimenopause, too.
Studies confirm that two to three servings of soya products a day may help reduce the frequency of hot flushes, as well as lower cholesterol and help to protect heart health after menopause.
According to an article by the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine, a cup of soya milk contains 300 milligrams of calcium, making it a valuable addition to the diet of post-menopausal women.
Unsweetened almond milk is a blend of nuts and water; it’s low in fat and has about 60-70kJ per 100ml.
Calcium, magnesium and vitamin E are naturally present, but try to find brands that are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and B12. The subtle, sweetish taste makes it good in smoothies and on cereal.
You can make your own unsweetened almond (or other nut) milk by blending one part nuts (blanching the nuts before soaking overnight makes life easier) with four parts water, then simply straining.
Try this recipe from Minimalist Baker or Google a flavoured almond milk recipe you like.
Rice & oat milks
When it comes to kilojoules, watch what other ingredients have been added to rice milk – you’ll often find rice milk mixed with coconut milk or sunflower oil. These can really boost the energy content.
Also, be sure to read the labels carefully as a variety of sweeteners are often added to counter the bland taste; and if you want calcium and vitamins, you’ll have to buy the fortified varieties. Rice milk is available at supermarkets, and you’ll find oat milk at selected health food stores.
Not to be confused with the creamy milk in a tin used in Asian cooking! This thinner version (from a carton) is made from pressed coconut, water and salt. Available from selected pharmacies and health food stores, its subtle coconut flavour makes it ideal for smoothies.
But what about cow’s milk?
Despite all these healthy alternatives, cow’s milk is still most people’s milk of choice, and who can blame us?
“Cow’s milk is a cheap, nutritious drink that’s a valuable source of protein, calcium, B vitamins and iodine,” says dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton.
“Low-fat or fat-free milks are lower in kilojoules and fat, but have less of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E,” she adds.
Organic milk tends to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids and is less likely to contain antibiotics and pesticides.
- This article originated on womanandhome.com