Plant-Based vs. Cow's Milk: How Do They Compare?

FRIDAY FAVORITE

With the gain in popularity of plant-based milk alternatives, we now have many more options than just skim versus 2%. How do we choose? It's important to understand that each type has a different nutritional profile. 

An 8-ounce glass of cow's milk has 8 g of protein and is a good source of calcium, potassium, and B12 and also is usually fortified with vitamins A and D. Cow's milk has lactose, which is a type of milk sugar that some people have trouble breaking down (lactose intolerance). If this is the case for you or you simply like follow a more plant-based diet here are some key points to consider when choosing a plant-based alternative: 

Choose unsweetened

The original or flavored not marked unsweetened are loaded with added sugar - up to 10 g in 8 ounces! 

Protein

The only plant-based milk that can complete with cow's milk on protein is soy milk, however soy milk is not going to be a good source of calcium unless it is fortified. 

Calories

Almond, cashew, and coconut milk are lowest in calories coming in between 30-45 calories per serving. Keep in mind these are not going to be a good protein source, however almond milk packs in more calcium that cow's milk and cashew and coconut milk are great non-dairy alternatives for making creamy soups + salad dressings. 

Make your own!

There are so many plant-based milk options on the shelves of the grocery store but we can find a lot of fillers in these. Ingredients like xanthan gum or carrageenan are added to thicken or stabilize the product or to give a smoother mouth feel. Avoid these by making your own! 

With a 1:2 ratio blend soaked (preferably overnight) nuts or seeds. Using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth remove the meal/fibrous part. Store in the fridge and use within 1 week.

Have a French press? Place the blended mixture in your French press and press away the meal/fibrous part just like when you make coffee! 

See more comparisons and the best way to use each type of milk in the graphic from SHAPE below! 

Source: SHAPE

Source: SHAPE