Dairy-Free Milk Alternatives for Allergies

milk and cookie

Milk and cookies are one of America’s favorite snack habits. Sitting by the fireplace or around the table, dipping your favorites in a large cold glass of good old-fashioned milk, evokes a smile on most people’s faces. And of course, a milk mustache to boot. However, for those who have a dairy allergy, this used to be out of the question. Well, that is not true any longer, as the market is bursting with dairy-free milk options.

A milk allergy is the number one food allergy in infants and children, according to the Food Allergy Initiative’s statistics. For those who have a dairy allergy, it is critical that other foods are included in the diet so that all nutrient needs can be met. Dairy foods contain a significant source of nutrients, including protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. In fact dairy contains a complete protein, which provides the body with all of the essential acids that are needed by the body. So without dairy, it is critical that other complete proteins or the correct combinations of foods be in the diet, to ensure meeting the bodies needs. 

Fortunately today there are many dairy-free milk options on the market to choose from. Take a look and see how they measure up:

Soy Milk 

This dairy-free option is one of the most popular alternatives on the market today. It is made from soybeans, a plant source, so it also appeals to vegetarians as well. It contains a significant source of protein, with between 6 to 10 grams per cup. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and naturally lactose-free.  Most varieties are fortified with vitamins A, D and B-12, along with calcium and riboflavin.  Soy milk also contains a complete protein, making it an optimal replacement for cow’s milk. Among the many varieties of soy milk you will find: unsweetened, sweetened and flavored options available. 

Rice Milk 

This dairy-free option is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup, and brown rice starch. Sweeteners and vanilla are added to enhance the taste and make it more similar to cows milk. While consumers use this as a milk substitute, nutritionally it is different than dairy milk. It has around 24 grams of carbohydrate, less than one gram of protein and very little calcium. Many brands are fortified with calcium, vitamins A, D and B-12 to add to its value. It is also lactose and cholesterol free, and low in fat. Rice milk can be found in plain or flavored varieties. 

Almond Milk  

This dairy-free option is made from ground almonds, water, and sweeteners in small amounts. Although it is derived from almonds which are high in protein, this milk is really only about 2% almonds. While it contains very little protein, B vitamins, essential fatty acids or minerals, it is appealing to many consumers for its great taste. Additionally, it contains minimal calories, as compared to dairy milk, so those who are calorie conscious may prefer this option. Almond milk also contains about 50% the daily value of vitamin E.

Coconut Milk  

This dairy-free option is newer to the market than some of the others. It is a good source of fiber and iron, however, it is higher in calories and fat than cow’s milk. Most varieties of coconut milk have around 5 grams of saturated fat per serving. The Lauric acid found in coconuts plays an important role in building the bodies immune system. 

So instead of passing up on a nice cold glass of milk, it is clear that there are many dairy-free options on the shelves to choose from. Go ahead, get a milk mustache after all. 

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