Get the Skinny on Milk & Milk Alternatives

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Plain old cow’s milk is getting more and more competition in the dairy case, with options ranging from coconut milk to flax milk and more.   Today we’re Getting the Skinny on the pros and cons of milk and milk alternatives.

  • Most milk alternatives are fortified with at least as much calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk.
  • The following stats are for unsweetened versions of milk alternatives; flavored versions are often much higher in sugar.


Cow’s Milk (fat-free or reduced-fat)

The good: 80-130 calories, 8 grams protein, 12-13 grams sugar; good source protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin D

But…  Doesn’t work if lactose intolerant or vegan; look for rBGH-free milk for no added hormones


Soy Milk (unsweetened)

The good:  Almost as much protein as cow’s milk; unflavored has about same calories as fat-free cow’s milk

But… High soy intake is linked to increased risk of issues including gastrointestinal upset to breast cancer


Flax Milk (unsweetened) – Good Karma Flax Milk

The good:  Very low in calories (50 cals per cup), with 5 grams protein and just 2 grams carbs per cup.

But… The taste might take a little getting used to.


Almond Milk

The good:  As little as 40-45 calories and 2-3 grams of carbs per cup.

But… Also only one gram of protein per cup.


Coconut Milk (unsweetened)

The good:  Can be as low as 45 calories per cup, and is a good fit for the few who can’t tolerate dairy, soy, or nuts.

But… It has zero protein, and the So Delicious brand has just 10% DV for calcium (one-third that of cow’s milk and nearly 80% less calcium than Almond Breeze Almond Milk).


Rice Milk (original)

The good:  It’s a fit for the very few who can’t tolerate dairy, soy, or nuts/almonds.

But… It’s high in carbs and sugars, with close to zero protein.