The Nutritional Value of Alternative Milks

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Tom Robbins, author of “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” once said, “You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.”

That sounds like a 1960s point of view. The 2020s version is that you shouldn’t hesitate to trade cow’s milk in for a glass of almond, oat, or soy milk.

But is that a smart trade?

Whole milk has 7.37 grams of fat, with 4.23 grams of saturated fat.

Almond milk contains no saturated fat and 2 grams of mono- and polyunsaturated fats in an 8-ounce glass.

Unsweetened almond milk also has just 30 calories, in contrast to whole milk’s 136 calories, and serves up 1 gram of protein (whole milk has 8 grams), 1 gram of carbohydrates, 450 mg of calcium, 160 mg of potassium, 150 micrograms of vitamin A, and 200 IU of vitamin D.

Oat milk delivers 120 calories, 5 grams of fat (0.5 grams is saturated fat), 3 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrates per 8-ounce serving, and 2 to 3 grams of fiber, though nutrition label information varies from brand to brand.

Soy milk’s popularity has plummeted because of news that its estrogen-like molecules can raise the risk of breast cancer. The Cleveland Clinic says there’s no evidence that is the case.

A serving of soy milk contains 131 calories, 4.3 grams fat with 0.5 grams sat fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein, and whatever added vitamins the manufacturer wants to put in. The USDA’s evaluation says soy milk contains no vitamin A or D.

Always opt for unsweetened alternative milks, whichever you choose. You can also experiment with newer options, like pea, pecan, walnut, and cashew milk. 

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