How do milk alternatives compare to cow’s milk?
There are many milk alternatives out there, including rice, coconut, almond and nut, hemp, and soy beverages. However, these drinks are not technically milk, are heavily processed and contain a fewer number of the nutrients in dairy and at lower levels. What sets cow’s milk apart from dairy alternatives is its nutritional package. Cow’s milk provides nine essential nutrients, as compared to milk alternatives which have fewer nutrients in variable amounts, depending on the type you choose. For instance, the protein nutrient in almond, coconut and rice milks is significantly less than the 8 grams of protein in an 8-ounce serving of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk products are one of the richest sources of well-absorbed calcium which may be more readily available to the body to help build bones than the calcium in calcium-fortified milk alternatives. Milk remains a better option than beverages that are often lacking an essential nutrient or more.
How does processing impact milk and milk alternatives?
Cow’s milk has only three ingredients: milk and vitamins A and D. Milk alternatives, such as almond and soy, contain 10 or more added ingredients, including salt, stabilizers, syrups, thickeners and sugar. Also, due to their excessive processing, milk alternatives (such as almond milk) often have fewer nutrients than the unprocessed core ingredient (such as almond).