All Milks Are Not Created Equal
Cow’s milk is a good source of protein, but what about the non-dairy milk beverages? Lately, I have been seeing more patients who are consuming almond milk. Just because you read the word “milk” on the label, don’t assume it’s a good source of protein.
Almond milk, like coconut milk and rice milk, are poor sources of protein. If you have had weight loss surgery, you know the importance of meeting your protein goal of 65 to 85 grams per day. Beware of misleading labels on the packages. You can see on the chart below that almond milk has 1 gram of protein for 8 fluid ounces. One brand prominently displayed on the front of the package “5X the protein.” The milk has 1 gram so 5 times the protein: 1 times 5 equals 5. Even though it has protein added from pea and rice protein, it still has less protein than cow’s milk or soy milk. If you prefer almond milk, it’s OK to use, just don’t count on it to be a big contributor to meet your protein goals.
Soy, almond, rice, and coconut milk are available in different flavors, sweetened or unsweetened, and low fat versions. Some of the brands make it difficult to find on the front of the package if it is sweetened or unsweetened so look at the list of ingredients. Most of the milk beverages I found were sweetened with cane syrup (sugar). Another thing I noticed with a random label check was that the almond milk and soy milk products have salt added to them.
Without fortification, the non-dairy milks are not good sources of calcium and Vitamin D. Be sure to check the nutrition facts label and choose a product that has been fortified.
Some of the beverages may taste good on cereal or for drinking, like almond and rice milk, but they don’t work well in cooking. Whichever beverage you decided to use, just check the label to be sure you have a fortified product.
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD