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Comparison: almond milk, milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk

Not long ago, the only option you could pour in cereal for breakfast was whole milk. Now, there are many types of milk: whole milk, 2%, 1%, skimmed (fat-free) and even lactose-free milk.

For people with diet or allergies, alternatives can also be used instead of milk. Almonds, soybeans, rice and coconut "milk" are common plant-based milk substitutes. They are becoming more and more popular in stores across the United States.

There are other milk substitutes, such as goat milk or oat milk , which may be another good choice for some people.

Each type of milk has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on a person's diet, health, nutritional needs or personal taste preferences.

For example, some people may be allergic to milk and may need to choose plant-based milk.

In addition, those who may need to increase their calorie and nutrient intake may choose whole milk, which is a concentrated source of protein, fat and calories.

However, milk such as whole milk and whole coconut milk is rich in fat and calories. If you want to pursue low-calorie beverages, you should pay attention. Except for goat milk, whole milk contains more calories and saturated fat than any other milk .

Check the differences between these popular types of milk to determine which milk best suits your needs. For all varieties, please choose the unsweetened version. Milk and milk substitutes can increase the sugar content if sugar is added.

Milk and milk substitutes: nutritional comparison per 8 fluid ounces (~237mL)

(Quantity is an estimate, may vary by brand and product)

Milk (full fat)15012 grams12 grams8 grams8 grams
Milk (1%)11012 grams12 grams2 grams8 grams
Milk (skimmed)8012 grams12 grams0 grams8 grams
Almond milk (no sugar added)401 g0 grams3 grams2 grams
Soy milk (no sugar added)804 grams1 g4 grams7 grams
Rice milk (no sugar added)12022 grams10gram2 grams0 grams
Coconut milk drink (without sugar)502 grams0 grams5 grams0 grams


What's really in your milk?

Whole milk has the highest fat content of all types of milk. A cup contains the following:

  • 150 calories
  • 12 grams of carbohydrates in the form of lactose (milk sugar)
  • 8 grams of fat
  • 8 grams of protein

The natural ingredients of milk are not removed. As you can see, whole milk is rich in natural protein, fat and calcium . Milk sales usually associated with vitamin A in the United States and the strengthening of vitamin d .

Other milk contains the same amount of carbohydrates and protein, with some or all of the fat removed. A cup of whole milk has 150 calories, while 1% milk has only 110 calories, and skimmed milk has only 80 calories.

The calorie content of skimmed milk is significantly lower than that of whole milk. However, removing fat will reduce the content of certain nutrients in milk, including vitamin E and K.

Processed lactose-free milk can break down lactose, which is the natural sugar in dairy products.

Lactose-free milk is also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals. The total fat and saturated fat content of lactose-free milk varies, being 2%, 1%, and fat-free varieties.

Advantages of milk

  • Whole milk can provide essential protein, extra calories from fat, and vitamins and minerals.
  • People with lactose allergies can use the lactose-free version.
  • Milk, including grass-fed foods and low-calorie pasteurized foods, is easily available in grocery stores and convenience stores.

Disadvantages of milk

  • Whole milk is high in calories and fat.
  • Many people cannot accept lactose, which is the sugar in milk.
  • Some people have moral concerns about modern dairy farming practices.

Almond milk

Almond milk is made from almond flour and filtered water. It may also contain starch and thickeners to improve its consistency and shelf life.

People who are allergic to almonds or nuts should avoid almond milk.

As long as there is no added sugar, almond milk usually has lower calories than other milks. It also contains no saturated fat and is naturally lactose-free.

Each cup of almond milk without added sugar has:

  • About 30 to 60 calories
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates (more varieties of added sugar)
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 1 gram protein

Even though almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not. Almond milk is also not a good source of calcium. However, many brands of almond milk are supplemented with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.

Advantages of almond milk

  • It is very low in calories.
  • It is usually fortified with calcium, a good source of vitamin A and vitamin D.
  • It is vegan and naturally lactose-free.

Disadvantages of almond milk

  • It is not a good source of protein.
  • It may contain carrageenan (carrageenin) , which may cause digestive problems in some people.
  • There are some environmental problems with the amount of water used to grow almonds.

Soy milk

Soy milk is made from soybeans and filtered water. Like other plant-based milk substitutes, it may contain thickeners to improve consistency and shelf life.

A cup of soy milk without added sugar has:

  • About 80 to 100 calories
  • 4 grams of carbohydrates (more varieties of added sugar)
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 7 grams of protein

Since soy milk comes from plants, it naturally does not contain cholesterol and is low in saturated fat. It also contains no lactose.

Soybeans and soy milk are good sources of protein, calcium (when fortified) and potassium .

Advantages of soy milk

  • It is a good source of potassium and can supplement vitamins A, B-12 and D and calcium.
  • It contains as much protein as milk, but has lower calories than whole milk, approximately equal to 1% or 2% of the calories in milk.
  • It contains very little saturated fat.

Disadvantages of soy milk

  • Soy is a common allergen in adults and children.
  • Most soybeans produced in the United States come from genetically modified plants, which is a concern for some people.

Rice milk

Rice milk is made from rice flour and water. Like other alternative milks, it usually contains additives to improve consistency and shelf stability.

Among all dairy products, the possibility of causing allergies is the least. This is a good choice for people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk , soy or nuts .

Each cup of rice milk contains the most carbohydrates and can provide:

  • 120 calories
  • 22 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of fat
  • Small amount of protein (less than 1 g)

Although rice milk can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D, they are not natural sources, just like soy milk and almond milk. Rice also shows a higher content of inorganic arsenic .

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trusted source It is recommended not to rely solely on rice and rice products, especially for babies, children and pregnant women.

The American Academy of Pediatrics took a similar position, suggesting to focus on a variety of foods and avoid relying on just rice or rice products.

Advantages of rice milk

  • It is the least allergic of milk substitutes.
  • It can be fortified as a good source of calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.
  • Rice milk is naturally sweeter than other milk substitutes.

Disadvantages of rice milk

  • Its high carbohydrate content makes it the least desirable option for diabetics.
  • It is not a good source of protein.
  • Due to the high content of inorganic arsenic, the consumption of rice products may pose health risks to infants and children.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is made from filtered water and coconut milk, and coconut milk is made from grated mature coconut meat. Although it is called coconut, it is not actually a nut, so people who are allergic to nuts should be able to eat it safely.

Coconut milk is more accurately called "coconut milk beverage" because it is thinner than the coconut milk commonly used in canned cooking.

Like other plant-based milk substitutes, coconut milk usually contains added thickeners and other ingredients.

Coconut milk contains more fat than other milk substitutes. Each cup of coconut milk beverage without added sugar contains:

  • About 50 calories
  • 2 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of protein

Coconut milk beverages are naturally free of calcium, vitamin A or vitamin D. However, these nutrients can be used to fortify.

Translated from Krans, B. (2020, March 05). Almond Milk vs. Cow's Milk vs. Soy Milk vs. Rice Milk. Retrieved January 03, 2021, from -cow-soy-rice

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