Let’s talk Milk
With the rise of veganism & dairy free diets have come multiple types of milks. It can be very confusing when you go to the milk aisle and you are confronted with 100’s of different milk types and brands. Sweet or unsweet, vanilla or original, dairy free, low fat? So today I am going to go through all the most popular types of milks and show you the good, the bad, the tastes, and the best ways to use each type so that next time you hit that milk aisle, you have a better idea about what you want! Here are 11 milk types compared; which is the best?
Every milk is very different and can have different benefits for your health. No discrimination here!
Check out this table to compare the nutrition facts for the types of milk I am going to be discussing:
Milk Types Compared; Which is Best?
*rice milk has 1g protein
So cow’s milk obviously comes from cows. It is the most used milk type and has been for a long time. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the DASH diet recommend everyone 2 & up should get 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy daily. The reason for these recommendations are so that you are able to reach the recommended intakes for the following nutrients of concern for the general public: calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. You will notice that on the chart skim milk (or 1%) contains 0% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. The reason for this is because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it is found in fat. So because low-fat milk has such a small concentration of the naturally occurring milk fat, the Vitamin D content is affected. To combat this, most (if not all) low fat dairy products are fortified with vitamin D.
Whole milk contains more calories than any other milk on our list. This is due to the high amount of fat in the milk, but as we just learned, it provides the most amount of Vitamin D per serving (31% of your daily value per cup). Whole milk is thick and creamy with a slightly sweet taste. Because of the high fat content it is very satiating. I like to use whole milk when making oatmeal, gravy, and baked goods.
Skim milk provides even more calcium than the whole milk and a comparable amount of vitamin D when fortified. It provides less calories and fat, but the greatest amount of protein. Skim milk is much thinner and more watery than it’s whole counterpart. It still retains the slightly sweet taste but the texture is more similar to water. Skim milk is the best to drink in my opinion and is awesome with tea.
Dairy Free Milk:
Dairy free milks are made by soaking the ingredient in water until softened and then blending it until well incorporated. As a milk substitute, many of these milks do not contain enough nutrients to provide you with the same nutrition. Although, many of these nut milks are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Even if it’s not a perfect milk substitute, there is a place for nut milk and each has it’s own benefit.
Fun Fact! Soy milk is actually considered to be a law-fat dairy option in guidelines listed above. This is due to the similar nutrient composition and makes it an awesome dairy alternative. Soy milk tastes sweet and is thicker than skim milk. There is a bit of an aftertaste, but it’s not off putting. Soy milk is awesome in smoothies as a source of protein.
Almond milk is a calcium super-star! It contains 45% of your daily value in just one serving. If you are looking for a calcium boost, this milk is for you. It’s also low in protein and carbohydrate. Almond milk has a nutty taste and thin consistency. I love to have it with cereal.
Coconut milk (in a carton, not the canned, full fat stuff) is lower in carbohydrate and protein than cows milk, but does boast more calcium and some vitamin D as well. It’s thinner than you would expect and doesn’t taste like pina colodas. Its more nutty and a little sour. The taste is more similar to coconut water. It’s not my favorite tasting milk, but it is bomb to use in savory recipes. Use it in Thai curries or to thicken soups and it’s awesome.
Oat milk is a new favorite of many people. It has some protein and less carbohydrate than cow’s milk but similar fat to whole milk. Oat milk is a winner for it’s taste and consistency. It’s rich texture and sweet flavor make it a favorite for lattes and coffee drinks. It’s also really good in pancake batter and oatmeal! Try it in my Holiday High Protein Oat recipe!
Hemp milk offers no carbohydrates while providing a fair amount of protein and a moderate amount of unsaturated fat. This makes it favorable for those who prefer lower carbohydrate diets. It is the most nutty tasting milk in my opinion, with a thin watery texture. It’s a good option to lighten the calorie load of foods like mashed potatoes.
Flax milk is the lowest calorie option on our list of milk types compared. It’s very bland and thin. I don’t love this one, but I hear it’s good to dip cookies in. But then again, what can’t cookies improve?
This is our highest fat option, but the fat is unsaturated unlike cow’s milk which contains mostly saturated fat. It’s very rich, almost like creamer. Ironically, it’s awesome as a coffee creamer. It’s thick and hazelnutty and overall delicious.
This one is low calorie and low fat. It’s VERY thick and viscous. I wouldn’t recommend drinking this one straight, but it’s awesome to thicken up sauces without adding fat and calories!
This milk option is the highest in carbohydrate, which makes sense because it is sweet tasting. The consistency is favorable and is comparable to whole milk. This one is yummy to have with cereal and to use in baked goods.
I hope this is helpful…
My hope is that this guide will help you to make better choices for your health depending on what your health goals are. So which of the milk types compared is the best? Every milk mentioned has some kind of benefit and what you choose to use is really dependent on your specific health goals. I also hope that this guide might inspire you to try a type of milk you may not have known even existed!
What is your favorite milk?
Do you have any uses for a certain milk that I didn’t mention?