Body Fusion Spilt Milk Series #1: Dairy and Alternate Milks Comparison

Quite recently we have had a growing number of clients and friends asking about milk selection, as the options in supermarkets and coffee shops seems to be growing exponentially.

“Ash/Kat, should I be drinking almond milk?!” Great question, should you?

We thought we would put it to the test, by asking the facebook herd what they wanted to know about MILK and many udderly fantastic questions came my way; Should I really be drinking full cream again? Are there added hormones? Is organic really better? What about lactose free diets? Does anyone really know how A2 milk is any different?

Let’s get started with a focus on alternate milks that are increasingly in popularity in comparison to regular dairy and for whom they may be recommended.

Almond Milk

It’s popping up everywhere including recipes and even in café’s. Some of the common brands we looked at you can see below:

Per 250mL serving

My most common worry with almond milk is that as you can see, a couple of the brands are not fortified with calcium! The other thing is almond milk, although lower in energy and natural sugar compared to many other types of milk, is also much lower in protein (Regular dairy milk has about 8-9g/serve). Protein is a very important nutrient to fill us up. To tell the truth unless you need to drink this, or REALLY enjoy the taste, it wouldn’t be my recommendation.

Suitable for: Vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, most people who are following the low FODMAP diet, those with soy and milk protein allergies

Not suitable for: Nut allergies

Soy Milk

Soy has been shrouded with some reputation of not being safe for consumption but we can assure you for majority of people (excluding those who have had some cancers or a strong history of cancers) it is a safe and healthy option. Many studies have proven soy to beneficial for healthy cholesterol levels.

We evaluated a few different soymilk brands on the market including Vitasoy, So Good, Pure Harvest, Bonsoy (only 51mg calcium/serve) and Australian’s Own (no calcium). Similar to the almond milk there were some unsweetened options. Good in theory if you want to reduce your energy intake but if you’re after taste, forget it! Most brands had about 7.5/8g of protein per serve, which is a lot more than other milks (rice, almond, oat).

We then stumbled across Vitasoy Calciplus and So Good Essentials. So Good Essential got my vote, with half as much sugar per serve compared to Vitasoy Calciplus and an extra 100mg calcium per serve compared to other soy milks. It was also fortified which I thought could be useful for some people, vitamins C (50%), E (23%), niacin, D2 (50%), A (15%), B12 (50%), B2 (25%), B6 (22%), B1 (23%), folate (44%), iron (19%), phosphorus (23%).

Suitable for: Vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, milk protein allergies, iron deficient, people with low vitamin D or people with/at risk of osteoporosis.

Rice, Oat and Coconut milks

Rice milk is very sweet tasting and higher in natural sugars than other milks. Both Australian’s Own and Vitasoy were fortified with calcium (300mg), which was a win. However its important to note that rice milk is of a high glycaemic index and like almond milk, low in protein (<1.5g/serve). You’d be drinking bucket loads to try and feel full.

Suitable for: People following the elimination diet or who really don’t like any other milk (last resort!)

Oat milks are probably the newest to the market. Pure Harvest has no calcium. Alternatively we were very impressed by the Vitasoy Oat Milk, Bone Essentials: With Vitamin D and Phosphorus. It is to be noted however; the vitamin D in this milk is only 13% of RDI’s compared to the So Good Essentials 50%. This milk also contains 1.5g of beta-glucan per serve, a type of fibre that has been undeniably linked to reducing cholesterol levels. 

Suitable for: Vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, milk protein allergies, people with low vitamin D or people with/at risk of osteoporosis, seed allergy (contains no vegetable oil), soy allergy, those with high cholesterol

Not suitable for: Coeliacs

Coconut milk is not to be confused with the cans of coconut milk you find in the Indian section in the supermarket. These are found in the long life milk section. With only 3 options: Vitasoy Unsweetened, Vitasoy Original and Pure Harvest we were not overly impressed. There was no calcium in the Pure Harvest but 300mg/serve in the others. All these milks were very low in protein 0.38-1.4g. The only difference between the original and unsweetened Vitasoy versions was that the Original had raw sugar added. Additionally the coconut unsweetened contained inulin, which for the average person is a great prebiotic but for coeliac or those sensitive to FODMAPs often a reactive starch.

Suitable for: Vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, milk protein allergies, seed allergy (contains no vegetable oil), soy allergy

Dairy Milk: Full Cream and Skim

As you can see with dairy milks, A2 included, are the milk highest in protein, fantastic for filling you up. This protein also contains amino acids leucine and casein, perfect for repairing muscles after a workout. Fat content varies from skim through to full fat varieties, consequently explaining energy variance. The calcium content is quite similar to alternate milks.

Most suitable for: Everyday milk drinkers, athletes or exercisers post workout, hungry people (which may include those after weightloss), under eaters who are struggling to keep weight on eating solid food.

Lactose Free Milk

For those who do not tolerate milk well, lactose free milk is always an option. Lactose free milks are just regular milk with an added enzyme called lactase to help the body break down the lactose in the milk. Lactose free milk therefore contains the same amount of protein, fat and energy as regular dairy milks. The calcium content is a little lower 300mg vs. 320/330mg than in regular milk.

Special mention here to Liddell’s lactose free UHT High Calcium Skim. One serve (250mL) contains a whopping 500mg of calcium and 9.7g of protein! It does contain 15g of sugar, which is a lot higher than all other milks analysed. HOWEVER interestingly on the ingredients list there is not any added sugar, so it must come from concentration during processing. Zymil High Calcium is a close follow-up, with 405mg calcium/serve, 12.8g sugar and 9.3g of protein.

Suitable for: Lactose intolerant people, anyone who doesn’t like drinking huge volumes of dairy, people with low vitamin D or people with/at risk of osteoporosis, perhaps elderly people who aren’t eating huge volumes of food

Our Top Picks from each group:

Almond Milk: Almond Breeze Unsweetened

Soy Milk: So Good Essential

Oat Milk: Vitasoy Oat Bone Essentials

Lactose Free: Liddells Full Cream & Liddells High Calcium

       

       

Well there you have it! A great jump down the rabbit hole to compare and contrast the different nutritional benefits and suitability of different milks. Our next blog will explore skim vs. full cream dairy milk vs A2. We will also discuss high protein milk. Stay tuned for that!

If you are after an informed and educated dietitian to understand more about how to meet your nutrition needs maybe its time to book in! We'd love to see you: 0426 500 251 (Ash)/0410 533 213 (Kat) or shoot us an email inquiries@bodyfusion.com.au. 

Time to get mOOving. :)

Ash & Kat