Browse any dairy aisle in 2021 and you will be overwhelmed by the limitless choice of milk and milk alternatives. Of course, you have your standard dairy milk options: skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk.
But in recent years, plant-based milks have become the real stars of the show, to the point where retailers have sometimes struggled to keep up with demand.
Made from oats, almonds, hemp seeds, peas or soybeans the list goes on plant based milks will probably add 50 cents more to your latte order and maybe give you the feeling like making a healthy choice.
We know that most milk substitutes are better for the planet than cow’s milk (more on that later). But are plant milks really better for our health?
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy products, plant-based milk is, without a doubt, the best option for you. But what about those of us who have never had a stomach ache from an ice cream cone, who can easily drink a latte made with cow’s milk, and who don’t have any problem afterwards? We contacted experts to find out.
In cow’s milk, watch out for hormones. In vegetable milks, watch out for added sugars and thickeners.
First of all: The experts we consulted said that when it comes to choosing between plant-based and dairy milks, there is no clear winner from a health perspective. Both can be good or bad for you, depending on a variety of factors.
For example, some dairy milks use a lot of hormones in the production of milk. Some plant milks contain added sugar and carrageenan. And then there are individual health needs.
So how can you find the healthiest milk for you?
“All forms of cow’s milk will contain a natural growth hormone. However, some contain a synthetic growth hormone known as rgGH or rbST. … This has been potentially linked to an increased risk of several conditions, including antibiotic resistance. “
– Dr Gretchen San Miguel
“There is no way to decipher what is more harmful or beneficial to human health [in general]because many factors are involved, such as lifestyle, genetics and health history ”, Kylene Bogden, dietitian and wellness consultant for Love Wellness, told HuffPost. But there are ways to figure out what’s best for you as an individual.
“Cow’s milk is a great source of many nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, potassium, fatty acids like CLA and omega-3s, potassium, magnesium and more,” said Dr Gretchen San Miguel, vschief physician of Medi-Weightloss, a weight loss channel. “The nutritional profile of plant-based milk is often comparable to that of milk because manufacturers strengthen it with vitamins and minerals. “
With similar nutrient profiles, Bogden and San Miguel both recommend becoming a label sleuth so that you can better understand exactly what is in the milk you are considering.
“All forms of cow’s milk will contain a natural growth hormone,” San Miguel said. “However, some contain a synthetic growth hormone known as rgGH or rbST, which is given to cows to produce more milk, not directly added to the milk. This has been potentially linked to an increased risk of several conditions, including antibiotic resistance. To avoid this, look for a label that says “no rbGH” or “no rbST”. This includes the widely available brands Organic Valley and Horizon.
When it comes to plant-based milks, some add sugar (there’s a decent amount of sugar in cow’s milk that occurs naturally from lactose), and carrageenan is a potentially harmful ingredient added to thicken. and increase shelf life.
“But there are many brands without this ingredient,” San Miguel said. “Some of the more accessible brands are Silk and 365, the Whole Foods private label. ”