Log in to your account

Not a member yet?

Subscribe now



The best alternative milks

Problems with lactose? Keen to try almond milk? There’s a vast array of alternatives to standard milk on the shelves now, so we pour over which is best for you.

Gone are the days when choosing your milk was as simple as deciding between full fat or trim/skim. These days, there’s an extensive range of non-dairy and non-standard milk alternatives to tempt your taste buds.

If you’ve taken dairy off the menu, you may need to consider the rest of your diet to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the important nutrients that cow’s milk offers. It’s one of nature’s best sources of calcium, after all.

The right alternative for you depends on your reason for not drinking cow’s milk in the first place. So, we’ve selected the best product for every need.

Have you got tummy trouble?

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, then cutting back on lactose (the natural sugar in milk) may reduce bloating and discomfort. Fortunately, milk is available in lactose-free and low-lactose variants. As these are made from cow’s milk, you’ll still get plenty of protein and calcium, but the lactose has been broken down, making it easy to digest.

Don’t like the taste or cow’s milk?

Can’t stand the taste of milk, but love cheese and yoghurt? While cheese and yoghurt will provide you with protein and calcium, you might like to try a nut milk (which tastes different from cow’s milk) such as almond milk, or an almond and coconut milk blend.

Are you vegan?

Soy milk has the closest nutrient profile to cow’s milk of all the dairy alternatives. Unlike rice, almond and oat milks, soy milk is high in protein so it’s ideal for vegetarians and vegans who don’t get protein from meat.

Brands that are calcium-fortified, with at least 120mg calcium per 100ml, are best. This ensures that one glass delivers almost a third of your daily calcium requirements for strong bones.

Trying to lose weight?

Milk has long been blamed for weight gain, but research shows that people who include dairy in their diet lose more weight and have more lean muscle than those who skip it. Rice, almond and oat milks are lower in kilojoules /calories than cow’s milk, but they lack protein which keeps us full. So, don’t ditch dairy if you’re trying to lose weight. Switch to reduced-fat cow’s milk to cut saturated fat and kilojoules/calories.

Use these criteria to compare milk alternatives

Did you know? Some almond milks have just two per cent almonds and a heap of sugar, so it pays to check the pack.

Article sources and references

  • Abargouei et al. 2012. Effect of dairy consumption on weight and body composition in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 36:1485-93
  • Chen et al. 2012. Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 96:735-47
  • Yantcheva et al. 2015. Food avoidance in an Australian adult population sample: the case of dairy products. Public Health Nutrition. 19(9):1616-23

Date modified: January 18 2022
First published: Feb 2017

Join healthyfood.com today from as little as 1 per month* using code:

Shopping list saved to go to meal plans