Milks that are also animal products (like cows milk) are no longer the only types of milks available and deemed healthy for the human body. In recent years, more and more people have developed a condition called lactose intolerance. People with this condition react to the lactose found in dairy products, and this can make people feel very ill. Here we take a good look at the plant-based alternatives.
The potential health problems associated with cows milk have been widely documented. Doctors now accept that symptoms ranging from malaise to bloating and skin conditions may all be caused by the body’s reaction (or over reaction) to lactose. This has led to an increase in both the quantities and the varieties of the plant-based alternatives. More and more people are swapping animal milks for vegetable milks.
The benefits of plant-based milks
- Plant-based milks contain no lactose
- They contain no cholesterol
- They are low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats, which are good for preventing heart disease
- They are high in vitamin B
- They contain ideal ratios of sodium and potassium
- They suit people with intestinal issues such as constipation and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
This is one of most well-known and established varieties of plant based milk and is now widely available. Soya milk was first consumed in China over a thousand years ago but was only commercially introduced in the United States in the 1980s. It can be enjoyed by vegans. Soya milk:
- is suitable for individuals who are lactose intolerant
- does not need enzymes to be digested, which makes it easy on our digestive systems
- releases its sugar content slowly so it is excellent for diabetics
- has the optimum combination of isoflavones, fatty acids, and proteins but is low in cholesterol
- delivers high quantities of calcium to the body to help strengthen bones
- provides potassium and magnesium and so aids the regulation of blood pressure
- contains isoflavines, which can help with menstrual symptoms in women
- is best bought organic.
This is a highly nutritious, nut-based milk, which is suitable for children (over 2 years of age) and is acceptable to vegans. Humans have been drinking almond milk since the middle ages, but it didn’t become popular in Western societies until the early 2000s. Almond milk is useful for:
- people who are anemic, weak, or who have liver problems
- brain health – it has a high potassium content
- aiding the prevention of osteoporosis – it has plenty of calcium
- helping keep your heart healthy – it has no cholesterol
- preventing constipation – it is high in fibre. This may also play a role in preventing colon cancer.
- providing many other nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.
A perfect high energy drink without any of the fats. Made from a grain, this contains no animal products and is suitable for vegans. Oat milk:
- is high in fibre – it makes you feel full up and stops cravings for unhealthy, sugary snacks
- is helpful in the fight against high cholesterol and diabetes
- is full of protein
- provides the essential fatty acids that your body needs together with vitamin E
- can help with high blood pressure. Research indicates that the high beta glucan content helps reduce cholesterol and biliary acids in the intestines.
Some studies have indicated that walnut milk has a beneficial effect on diarrhea symptoms and many people now drink it to get the benefit of its antioxidant effects. Research has also indicated that it may play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also delivers a beneficial quantity of vitamin E, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, polyphenols, and trace elements, selenium, copper, zinc, and magnesium.
Rice milk is not the same thing as “rice water”, which is a traditional remedy for diarrhea. Rice milk is made from grains of rice which are ground and cooked and then fermented. It is thought that rice milk:
- is light and sweet to drink
- is gluten-free.
- is easily digested by the human gut
- is very low in calories and is therefore better in a calorie-controlled diet than other milks.