Food shopping has evolved over the years. Long gone are the days of only cow’s milk or soy milk. Now it seems there is milk made from every type of plant! You will likely find yourself questioning, “which is best for me?” or “is there a better option to use as a replacement in cooking or baking?”.
The range of alternative milk beverages includes almond, cashew, soy, coconut, pea, oat, walnut, flax, hemp, macadamia, and rice – as well as what seems like a new option each week!
The nutrients are just as varied as the plants from which they are derived. The question is, “Which milk is best for ME?” because your nutrition needs, and taste preferences will differ from another person’s.
The nutrients in cow’s milk are protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, zinc, selenium, iodine, and potassium.
Avoiding cow’s milk does not mean you have to miss out on its great nutrition! Other sources of these nutrients include:
- Protein: meats, beans, some plant-based milk.
- Vitamin A: beef liver, sweet potato, carrots, cantaloupe, red bell peppers, fortified cereals, mango, spinach.
- Vitamin b12: beef liver, clams, tuna, fortified nutritional yeast, salmon, beef.
- Riboflavin: beef liver, fortified breakfast cereals, beef, clams, almonds.
- Niacin: beef liver, chicken or turkey breast, prepared marinara sauce, salmon, tuna, pork, beef, rice, fortified breakfast cereals, russet potato.
- Phosphorus: salmon, scallops, chicken breast, lentils, beef, cashews, russet potato, kidney beans, brown rice, peas, oats, egg.
- Pantothenic acid: beef liver, fortified breakfast cereal, shitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chicken breast, tuna, avocado.
- Zinc: oysters, beef, crab, lobster, pork, baked beans, fortified breakfast cereals, dark meat chicken, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas.
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardine, pork, shrimp, enriched pasta, beef, turkey, chicken, egg, and brown rice.
- Iodine: most enriched grains and iodized salt.
- Potassium: apricot, lentils, squash, prunes, raisins, potato, kidney beans, orange juice, soy, banana, chicken breast, salmon.
Here are some tips when shopping for your new favorite:
- Choose unsweetened varieties with little to no added sugar. Those labeled “original” often contain large amounts of added sugar that add up quickly.
- If using plant-based milk to replace cow’s milk, choose one fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
- Children ages 1-2 should receive full-fat versions with a nutrient content similar to whole cow’s milk. Adults, however, can consider low-fat and fat-free versions.
Raquel Durban, MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian specializing in the dietary management of families with food allergies. She received her master of science degree in nutrition from the University of Maryland and completed a nutrition internship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As a recognized authority on the dietary and nutritional management of food allergies, she is a frequently invited speaker at allergy and immunology conferences and has the pleasurer of precepting dietetic interns. Ms. Durban has contributed her expertise to peer-reviewed publications and continuing education programs.
Ms. Durban is a steering committee member and cochairs the internship program of the International Network of Dietitians and Nutritionists in Allergy and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the International Association or Food Protein Enterocolitis. She plays and active role in the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). She serves on the organizations’ numerous committees, collaborating with other health care professionals and patient advocacy groups to improve quality of life and advance understanding of families living with the challenges of food allergies.
From pediatric weight gains and losses to restricted diets for food allergy and disease management, she does not believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer for success. She will work to find the best balance of meeting nutritional needs with lifestyle demands and ensure collaboration with other members of the care team.