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This is the ultimate guide to milk and all its non-dairy alternatives. You’re welcome!

Ladies, it’s time to up your milk intake in order to reap its numerous health benefits. Read on to know about its non-dairy alternatives as well.
milk nutrition
Don't underestimate the power of milk! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 13:24 pm IST
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If you are a picky eater who also happens to be among those staunch haters of milk, it’s time you change your perception as this wonder elixir is replete with nutrients.

Milk is a highly nutritious liquid that is not only consumed in its pure form, but is also used in making cheese, cream, butter and yogurt.

From sweet to savoury, milk forms basis of a number of dishes. Bovine milk and its alternatives like the buffalo milk, almond milk, soy milk, and others are packed with nutrients.

A research, conducted by the McMaster University in Canada and published in the journal The Lancet, found that milk is indeed good for the body. According to study authors, research, based on 36,000 people aged 35 to 70 from 21 different countries, found that consumption of dairy products is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Here is a list of health benefits (and a few side-effects) of different kinds of milk.

1. Almond milk
A low-calorie drink that is made from ground almonds and filtered water, it looks like milk but has a nuttier flavour. While almonds are high in calories and fat, the final processed product contains only a small portion of almonds and is a great way to cut calories.

A study conducted by Canada’s University of Calgary found that even a modest weight loss of 5% to 10% is a great way of preventing type-2 diabetes.

Also read: Can’t keep type 2 diabetes under check? Here are 5 ways to sort you out

Almond milk, which is rich in Vitamin E, protects against heart disease and cancer. A Laboratory of Health Science study from Japan found that Vitamin E is a potent agent for cancer prevention.

A cup (240 grams) of unsweetened almond milk contains:

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  • 60 calories
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 1 gram of protein

Keep in mind
Almond milk contains carrageenan, which may result in digestive issues in some.

2. Soy milk
Made from soybeans and filtered water, it may contain ingredients to increase shelf life. Soy milk, being plant-based, is free of cholesterol and is low in saturated fat. It is also a good alternative for people who are lactose intolerant.

Studies suggest that soy products improve cholesterol levels. A study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that consuming soy products like soy milk reduced LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.

milk nutrition
Soy milk is the most common substitute for cow’s milk.
GIF courtesy: GIPHY

One cup (240 grams) of unsweetened soy milk contains:

  • 100 calories
  • 4 grams of carbohydrate
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 7 grams of protein

Keep in mind
Higher intakes of soy-based foods may cause fertility problems and lower sperm counts, reveals a 2008 Harvard study.

Oat milk
The perfect choice for anyone with allergies, oat milk is free of lactose, nuts, soy and gluten and is a healthy alternative for bone and heart health.

Made by soaking and blending oats with water and then straining the concoction, it has to be enriched separately with nutrients like calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins A and D.

A great source of Vitamin B, studies show that oat milk may help elevate mood, combat oxidative stress and promote healthy hair, skin, and nails.

A cup (240 grams) of oat milk contains:

  • 120 calories
  • 3 grams protein
  • 5 grams fat
  • 16 grams carbs
  • 2 grams dietary fibre
  • Vitamin B12, D, A
  • Riboflavin
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Iron

3. Coconut milk
Made from filtered water and coconut cream, coconut milk is safe for consumption by people with nut allergies. The milk can be easily fortified with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D and the fat in it may help in weight loss.

A study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said it helps in modest reductions in body weight and composition without adversely affecting lipid profiles.

Also read: 5 ways the humble coconut milk can give you amazing skin and hair

One cup (240 grams) of coconut milk contains:

  • 552 calories
  • 57 grams fat
  • 5 grams protein
  • 13 grams carbs
  • 5 grams fibre
  • Vitamin C
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium

Keep in mind
Canned coconut milk often contains bisphenol A, which may lead to reproductive problems and cancer.

4. Buffalo milk
Buffalo milk is high in calcium, which helps in staving off the risk of hypertension by keeping blood vessels elastic and ensuring smooth flow of blood. It is also low in cholesterol as compared to other milk sources.

A review of dairy fats in the journal Foods revealed that bovine milk is consumed globally and accounts for 85% of the total global milk production, followed by buffalo (11%), goat (2.3%), sheep (1.4%) and camel milk (0.2%).

An article published in Science Direct also highlighted that the milk of the buffalo is richer in saturated fatty acids. The lower cholesterol content in buffalo milk makes it more popular than cow milk for those who are health conscious.

milk nutrition
Buffalo milk is replete with protein, calcium and iron.
GIF courtesy: GIPHY

A cup (240 grams) of buffalo milk contains:

  • 237 calories
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrate
  • Cholesterol
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride

Keep in mind: Since buffalo milk contains more protein than cow milk, it is not recommended for infants and the elderly.

5. Cow milk
A daily staple for millions around the world, it helps curb appetite and has a host of nutritional benefits for the human body.

A 2013 study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that dairy helped people feel fuller and reduced their overall fat consumption for an hour.

It is also linked with bone development in children, with a 2016 study, published in the journal Calcified Tissue International, pointing towards the same.

A cup (240 grams) of cow’s milk contains:

  • 146 calories
  • 8 grams protein
  • 8 grams fat
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D, B12
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Selenium

Keep in mind: There are people who cannot digest cow’s milk because they are lactose intolerant, which has led to the creation of non-dairy milk alternatives.

So, choose the type that suits you the most but don’t miss out on the goodness of this healthy drink.

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