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How to Choose the Right Plant Milk: Here are 4 things to look for at the grocery store

Plant milk is a popular alternative to regular dairy milk for a lot of reasons.

The movement has been happening for so long. Plant based milks are sweeping through our kitchens and grocery store aisles. First it was soy milk, and then almond milk soon stole the spotlight. Now the latest big thing in the non-dairy milk category is oat milk. It’s a hot ticket item at places like Costco and Trader Joe’s, and is  projected to explode in popularity over the next few years.

Studio 5 Health Contributor Miki Eberhardt shared the low down on all the options out there if you’re wondering which is best for you.


The Popularity of Oat Milk

Oat milk is up and coming, and it’s starting to rival almond milk.

“One of the main reasons is it’s creamier, it has a better texture and it feels more like dairy,” Miki explained. “It has a higher carb content, a little more protein, and it froths more like milk.”

Oat milk is also more sustainable with a longer shelf life, and it’s better for the environment. It also just tastes good!

Benefits of Plant Milks

A lot of people choose plant milk because of allergies or intolerances to dairy, but there are some other reasons plant milks are a good choice.

Going with a plant milk is a good way to cut out saturated fat, and that can be better for heart health.

“If I would rather have my saturated fat go to butter or cheese or red meat, maybe my milk, I could go for a plant version, Miki said.

Some might be concerned with the calcium and vitamin D content in plant milk versus regular milk. But, they can have just as much, if not more than dairy.

“They weren’t an equal to dairy when the first came out, but now they are. It’s important to check, but a lot of them do match the calcium and vitamin D that are in dairy milk,” Miki emphasized.

Nowadays, these plant milks have come a long way, and they actually do taste good! They are also better for the planet.

“Most take less land and less water. So plant milks are starting to be more popular,” Miki said.

Choosing a Plant Milk

  1. Look for calcium and vitamin D: Plant milks now tend to have the same amount or more of these essential vitamins and minerals as regular dairy. Miki said to look for at least 2.5 mcg of vitamin D, and 300 mg of calcium.
  2. Choose “unsweetened” or “original”: Unsweetened has no added sugar, original does have a little bit added. It’s very little, but it is still a difference.
  3. Skip coconut milk & its saturated fat: Miki said coconut milk can be a great alternative to cream in recipes, but it is one of the only plant sources that is a saturated fat. If you’re having it everyday, it’s not as good for your heart health as other options.
  4. If over 50 or vegan, choose one with B12: B12 is only found in animal products, so a vegan diet won’t include any of this vitamin. When you’re over 50, you may not break down those animal products as well, so getting B12 from plant milk may be helpful.
  5. Makeup for protein elsewhere: There are a couple plant milks that match regular dairy with soy and pea protein, but others are lower, so you’ll want to get your protein from another source.
  6. Avoid rice milk: Miki said rice in general can soak up arsenic in the soil and water. With so many other plant milks out there, she said to choose a different one.

Miki’s Plant Milk Criteria

  • 1 tsp of added sugar or less
  • 1.5 g of saturated fat
  • 2.5 mcg of vitamin D
  • 200 mg of calcium

Best Plant Milks

Find more insight from Miki on Instagram, @nutritionbymiki.

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