How healthy is your almond milk really? It may taste good and may not cause you any of the unpleasant reactions caused by cow's milk. But though plant-based milk beverages of this kind have been on the market for a couple of decades and are advertised as being healthy and wholesome for those who are lactose-intolerant, little research has been done to compare the benefits and drawbacks of the various kinds of plant-based milk.
A new study from McGill University looks at the four most-commonly consumed types of milk beverages from plant sources around the world - almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk - and compares their nutritional values with those of cow's milk. After cow's milk, which is still the most nutritious, soy milk comes out a clear winner.
The researchers compared the unsweetened versions of the various plant-based milks in all cases and the figures below are based on a 240 ml serving.
Soy milk - the most balanced nutritional profile
- Soy milk is widely consumed for its health benefits linked to the anti-carcinogenic properties of phytonutrients present in the milk known as isoflavones.
- Has been a substitute for cow's milk for 4 decades.
- Concerns, however, are the 'beany flavor' and the presence of anti-nutrients (substances that reduce nutrient intake and digestion).
Coconut milk - no protein and few calories, but most of them from fat
Almond milk - need for complementary sources of food to provide essential nutrients
Cow's milk benefits & drawbacks
Cow's milk allergy & lactose intolerance
The researchers add that more work will need to be done to understand the effects of various conventional and novel processing methods on the nutritional profile, flavour and texture of these alternative milks.