All milk is not created equal. Having so many options to choose from, it can be somewhat confusing. But there is something for everyone. Here are some of the most popular choices of milk. Which one do you prefer?
Cow’s milk is available as pasteurized, unpasteurized, whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
Pasteurized means that the milk that has been heated to a temperature that removes any dangerous bacteria. This kind of milk is most often used for drinking and in cooking. Unpasteurized means that the milk is raw or untreated. It is recommended that babies, young children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with an impaired immune system should avoid drinking unpasteurized milk.
Whole milk refers to milk that has not have anything taken out or added. It is usually pasteurized. Whole milk is sometimes also known as full-cream milk.
Semi-Skimmed and skimmed milk refers to milk where some or all of the fat has been removed. Semi-skimmed (low-fat) milk has a fat content of 1.5 -1.8 per cent whereas skimmed milk has maximum fat content of 0.3 per cent. Skimmed milk contains half the calories of full-cream milk and only a fraction of the fat, but nutritionally it is virtually on a par, retaining most of its vitamins, calcium and other materials. However, removing almost all the fat also removes the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. As a result, skimmed milk is not suitable for young children.
Goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk and therefore is easier to digest for those suffering from lactose intolerance. It contains a greater amount of essential fatty acids such as omega 6 (linoleic acid) and omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) essential fatty acids than cow’s milk as well as higher amounts of vitamin B-6, vitamin A, and niacin. It is a good source of calcium, tryptophan, protein, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and potassium. People who are unable to consume cow’s milk may be able to drink goat’s milk without any problems. However scientist has yet to discover why some people can better tolerate goat’s milk.
Soy milk is not really milk. It is actually the liquid that remains after the soybeans are soaked, grounded, and then strained. Since it doesn’t contain any lactose, soy milk is suitable for lactose intolerant people. It is a popular substitute for cow’s milk for vegans since it is from a plant source (others include rice, oat, almond, coconut, and potato milk). Although soy milk has vitamin B, it is not a good source of B12, neither does it contains a lot of calcium. Thus the manufacturers offer fortified versions where calcium and vitamins E, B12, and D, and other nutrients may be added.
It is made by mixing finely ground almonds with water. Because almonds is rich in vitamins and minerals, the milk will contain vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, iron, fibre, manganese, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, protein, dietary fiber. It contains more vitamins and minerals than soy and rice milks and is suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. Almond milk does not contain saturated fats or cholesterol, is very low in fats, calories and carbohydrates. It can be a good milk substitute for those who would like to lose weight. However it is low in proteins and contains only a fraction of the protein available in dairy milk.
Coconut milk is produced by pressing the liquid from grated coconut meat and blending it with water. It is often used in cooking. It is high in protein and rich in minerals and vitamins. It contains iron, phosphorus, selenium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and the important vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6. However, people trying to lose weight and those with heart problems should avoid coconut milk or foods with coconut milk because it is high in saturated fat. Too much saturated fat can cause clogging in the arteries.
Rice milk is made from boiling brown or white rice. Like soy milk and almond milk, rice milk is suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. Manufacturers might have added thickening agents to commercial rice milk. Manufacturers also often offer fortified versions with calcium, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron. It does not contain cholesterol. Rice milk is low in fat and contains more carbohydrates compared to cow’s milk but still contains more fat than skimmed cow’s milk. However the downside it that it does not contain as much calcium or protein as cow’s milk. In general, rice milk taste sweeter compared to cow’s milk.
Oat milk is made from blending whole oats with water. It is an alternative choice for people who are allergic to soy. It is a good source of fibre and a low fat alternative to cow’s milk. Oats is the only grain to contain high levels of protein. Oat milk contains 10 essential minerals and 15 vitamins. A single glass of oat milk contains about 35% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. It is also cholesterol free. However oat’s milk may contain gluten so it may not be suitable for those who are gluten sensitive.
Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds which are soaked and grinded with water. It contains a good balance of omega 6 (linoleic acid) and omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) essential fatty acids which our bodies cannot product on its own and have to be present in our diet. It contains magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc and thiamine, vitamins such as A, E, D, and B12. It is suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. Being fat free and contains no cholesterol, it is a good choice for those trying to lose weight. Manufactures may fortify it with additional vitamins and minerals.