Soy milk has the best nutritional profile among non-dairy milk, according to a new study. A team of researchers came to the conclusion after comparing four alternative kinds of milk to dairy milk, namely soy, coconut, rice, and almond.
The experts found that coconut, rice, and almond milk did not have the essential nutrients that are beneficial for overall good health.
Scientists from Canada's McGill University conducted the research to see if there was any truth to claims that plant-based milk is appropriate and wholesome substitutes for dairy milk. They analyzed the nutrition labels of various unsweetened rice, soy, and almonds milk apart from beverages that were free from coconut dairy and were easily available in grocery stores.
Milk obtained from cows is still the most balanced and complete source of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, according to the researchers.
Dairy Vs. Non-Dairy Milk
The researchers found soy milk as the source of non-dairy milk to be most comparable to cow milk as far as overall nutrient balance was concerned. There are about 95 calories of protein in every 8-ounce serving of soy milk, making it the non-dairy milk that has the highest content of protein.
There are also phytonutrients like isoflavones in soy milk that have cancer-fighting abilities. However, soy milk was also found to have anti-nutrient substances like phytic acid, which can make it more difficult for the body to absorb and digest crucial minerals and vitamins.
The low amount of calories in almond milk was found to be high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for weight management, weight loss, and reduction of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Almond milk, however, is low in carbohydrates and protein that make it less nutritionally balanced than soy or cow milk.
The researchers observed that there was no protein in dairy-free coconut beverages. Most of the energy provided by such type of milk come from saturated fats, though it is low in calories. Drinking such beverages, however, increases the good HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL ones.
Rice milk, which is sweet tasting, is a good option for people who are allergic to almonds and soybeans. However, it has a high amount of calories and is comparatively low in good nutrients. The researchers also added that consuming rice milk instead of cow milk without proper care can result in malnutrition, specifically for infants.
“It is quite clear that nutritionally soy milk is the best alternative for replacing cow’s milk in human diet,” the research team concluded.
The study is published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology.