There are so many different varieties of milk available on supermarket shelves knowing which one to pick can be daunting. Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and author of The Forensic Nutritionist Fiona Tuck gives us the low down.
Cow’s milk provides us with nutrients such as protein and important vitamins and minerals for building healthy bones. Cow’s milk contains calcium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin A, and B vitamins such as riboflavin.
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Full fat milk
Full cream milk is the less processed as it retains all the fat making it also the tastiest and creamiest of all the milks. As a guide full fat milk consists of around 3.8 – 4% fat. Don’t be scared off by the fat content as we need this for many important functions within the body such as satiety, hormone production, a healthy nervous system and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. If you are not eating processed foods and junk foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar including full fat milk in your diet can be a healthy way to go.
Skim milk has undergone processing to remove the majority of fat making it the lowest fat milk available. Removing the fat content can make the milk taste more watery and it slightly increases the natural sugar content. Skimmed milk may however contain slightly more protein making it a good alternative for those needing to reduce fat intake or those looking to lose weight.
Lactose free milk
Lactose free milk is widely available and is suitable for those people that have difficultly consuming regular milk due to the lactose content. Lactose free milk has had the lactose or natural milk sugar removed making it suitable for those that are lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting milk.
There are a variety of different plant milks available so when choosing non dairy milks be mindful to read the ingredient panel carefully. Many plant milks are highly processed and contain gums, thickeners, sugars, flavours, salt and preservatives to enhance the flavour and mouth feel of the milk. Look for minimally processed milks that have fewest ingredients e.g. almonds and water. Not all plant milks are high in calcium so when looking at the nutritional panel look for at least 100mg of calcium per 100ml of milk.
Soy milk can be a good dairy free option due to its fat and protein content but look for a low sugar soy milk and minimal gums and thickeners. Soy milk tends to contain the highest protein content out of all the plant milks which helps you feel fuller for longer.
Almond milk is becoming a popular non-dairy alternative however many nut milks contain very small amounts of actual nuts, the majority of the milk being mainly water, sugar, thickeners and flavours. Almonds tend to be high in calcium and vitamin E however the actual amount of nutrients present in almond milk depends on the brand of almond milk used so always check the ingredient and nutrient panel.
Rice milk is often used as a non-dairy alternative, particularly with children as it is often the most palatable. Rice milk and even oat milk tends to have a higher sugar content and lower protein content and is lower in nutrients making it a less nutrient rich plant milk alternative.
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