While I was growing up, my father made sure that I didn’t eat too many dairy products. He was a doctor and he felt that the saturated fats in animal products were best enjoyed in moderation. To this day, I don’t really drink milk. Lately, I’m not alone. Many people have come to question the wisdom of drinking cow’s milk every day because of its saturated fat content and possible hormone content. Also, vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant need a dairy-free substitute for milk. Luckily, there are a lot of milk alternatives out there for drinking, pouring over breakfast cereal, and using in recipes. Let’s explore them.
When I was younger I drank soy milk quite a bit. It’s thicker than cow’s milk and has a bit of an oily texture. Flavored soy milk can contain high amounts of sugar, so be sure to read the label on the carton before buying. Soybeans contain isoflavones, a FoodTrient A-lister that repairs tissue and is therefore good for developing young-looking skin. Soy products increase bone density and can alleviate menopausal symptoms because of their phytoestrogenic properties (They mimic the body’s own estrogen and balance hormone levels for many people suffering from hormone related ailments.). But it’s those same properties (soybeans act like estrogen in the body) that make people with a high risk for breast cancer want to avoid soy. Soybeans also have been shown to aggravate osteoarthritis symptoms. So soy milk is not for everyone.
Rice milk is a nice, light but creamy beverage that is easy to drink and works well over cereals. It has the FoodTrient fiber as well as electrolytes. Rice milk, however, is high in carbohydrates so I don’t drink too much of it.
Coconut milk is thick and creamy and chock full of lauric acid, a FoodTrient favorite with antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral properties for staving off infection. According to new research, its fatty acids increase your “good cholesterol,” or HDL. In my opinion, coconut milk is too heavy to drink straight so I use it in my recipes in place of cow’s milk or heavy cream. See my recipe for Sweet Potato and Jackfruit Delight.
Almond milk is almost as light as rice milk, so it’s perfect for using in coffee and tea in the morning. It’s also great over cereal. It contains calcium, omega-3s, protein, fiber, and antioxidants, and vitamin E, all containing health-enhancing FoodTrient properties. I use almond milk in my Shakeology nutritional shakes and in my Almond-Blueberry Parfaits. Be aware that flavored almond milk can contain high amounts of sugar, so choose the plain variety.
Hemp milk is a newcomer to the milk-alternative scene. It comes from pressed hemp seeds and is high in omega 3s making it great for heart-health and for reducing inflammation of the skin. The seeds also contain calcium and phosphorous.
Hemp seeds come from the cannibis plant, but they don’t contain THC, so you needn’t worry about getting the marijuana effect from drinking hemp milk. See my delicious Blueberry Hemp-Milk Smoothies recipe. It can be found in my book FoodTrients: Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life, available for sale on my website.