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Pros and Cons – Which Milk is Best for You?

Whether it's served with cookies, in a bowl of cereal or just taken as a simple refreshing drink, milk is something many of us drink every day. The most common kind of natural cow milk is a great source for protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and D, all of which are known to help the body build bones and keep them strong. But cow milk is far from being the only kind there is. There are many other types of milk for people who are lactose intolerant, people who are looking for other health benefits, or simply those that enjoy a different taste.

Traditional cow milk:

After it’s taken from the cow, the milk is pasteurized (heated then quickly cooled) to kill bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. Nutrition experts recommend drinking low-fat (1%) milk (100 calories, 2.5 grams fat) to reduce your intake of saturated fats that may lead to heart diseases. Whole milk has about 8 grams of fat per 8-ounce glass, so it’s better to only drink it on rare occasions.


Organic milk:

This kind of milk is produced by cows that are given organic food and mostly roam freely and graze on pesticide-free grass. The cows are not treated with any synthetic hormones to increase milk production but the milk itself is still pasteurized. Although most experts say there is not much difference between organic and normal milk, some studies have found other evidence. According to those studies, the organic milk contains more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, then the non-organic kind.

Organic milk can be added to anything and used just like normal milk.


Soy milk:

Based on an extraction from mature soybeans mixed with water and a natural sweetener, soy milk is naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free. It is slightly thicker than cow’s milk and it’s safe to drink for people who have dairy allergies or lactose intolerance. It has almost as much protein as cow's milk and comes in many different flavors, the healthiest is, of course, is the natural.

Best used in creamy soups, salad dressings, casseroles, sauces, and other savory foods.


Rice milk:

Created from a mixture of partially milled rice and water, this type of milk is available in a variety of flavors like chocolate and vanilla. It's lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates than cow’s milk and soy milk, which makes it great as a pre or post-workout drink. It has a light, watery texture and a sweet taste. Rice milk often comes in aseptic containers and doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened.

Best used in desserts, baked goods, pancakes, and French toast.


Almond milk:

Made from blended roasted almond, the resulting milk is mostly enriched with nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and the antioxidant vitamin E, but has very little protein. The sweet and nutty flavor goes well with coffee or cereal, so it’s a tasty alternative for dieters. Almond milk is free of saturated fat, cholesterol, and has no lactose. The unsweetened versions have just 60 calories a cup. Almond milk does have one disadvantage since it's higher in sodium than other alternatives, but if you don’t drink too much and keep a balanced diet, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Best used in smoothies, coffee, and cereal.


Hemp milk:

This might be one of the healthiest dairy-free alternatives for milk. Hemp milk is perfectly legal and is made from hemp plant seeds, which don’t contain THC. It supplies high-quality protein and a good mix of amino acids including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid. Be warned that it has a thicker and nuttier taste than soy or rice milk, so it may not appeal to everyone.

Best used in mashed potatoes, muffins, quick breads and just about any baked food.


Coconut milk:

This rich, creamy milk is made from the meat and juice of coconuts and is very often used in Indian and Thai cuisine. It has a strong, sweet flavor, which means a little goes a long way. Coconut milk has generous amounts of phosphorous, potassium and fiber, the least amount of sodium and is fairly low on calories. Most brands are also added with about half a day's worth of vitamin B12, a brain-boosting nutrient.

Best used in coffee, tea, pudding, smoothies, oatmeal and anything you want to thicken and sweeten.


Related Articles:

1. The Health Benefits and Dangers of Drinking Cow's Milk

2. The Best Plant Milks to Pair With Coffee and Foods

3. 7 Ways to Make Use of Sour Milk

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