The Skinny on Cow’s Milk & Alternatives
What is better: cow milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk? Are they nutritionally equivalent – meaning they have the same amounts of calcium, fat and protein? If you have asked yourself these questions you have come to the right spot!Which is nutritionally better: cow, soy, almond, rice or coconut milk? Click To Tweet
First, before doing a nutritional comparison, it is important to mention that people choose dairy alternatives for diverse reasons. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan you might choose a milk alternative, like soy or almond milk, because they are plant-based. Additionally, if you are lactose intolerant you might choose an alternative beverage (soy milk, almond milk) that does not contain lactose.
Note: If you are lactose intolerant a small amount of lactose in cow’s milk (1/2 cup to 1 cup serving) is generally tolerated without adverse symptoms. Cow’s milk is also available in lactose-free varieties.
Here is the breakdown:
|Type of Milk or Milk Alternative (250mL)||Calories (kcal)||Protein (grams)||Fat (grams)||Calcium (mg)||Lactose?|
|Cow’s Milk (whole 3.3%)||155||8||8||290||Yes|
|Cow’s Milk (2%)||129||9||5||302||Yes|
|Cow’s Milk (1%)||108||9||3||307||Yes|
|Cow’s Milk (0% or skim)||88||9||Trace||324||Yes|
• Soy beverage is the most common cow’s milk alternative and according to Canada’s Food Guide, it is ‘nutritionally comparable’ to cow’s milk.
o The fat and protein content is similar to cow’s milk
o Rice and almond beverages are lower in both protein and fat
• Only animal milks have naturally occurring calcium. Cow’s milk and goat’s milk are both naturally rich in calcium. Look for milk alternatives that are fortified with about 30% DV (daily value) calcium.
• Coconut milk is not fortified with calcium and is very high in fat
• Plant based milk alternatives do not contain the amount of vitamins and minerals that occur naturally in cow’s milk (magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and iodine)
• Soy, rice and other vegetarian beverages are not appropriate alternatives to breast milk, infant formula or whole milk during a baby’s first two years
• Children should be switched to a low-fat milk (1%) after 2 years of agePlant-based milk does not contain same amount of nutrients that cow's milk does! Click To Tweet
Enjoy milk and milk alternatives as part of healthy diet!