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Everything you need to know about milk

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Posted on March 05 2020

Everything you need to know about milk

From almond to soy and plain old cow’s milk, here’s everything you need to know about milk

A walk down the dairy aisle is no longer as simple as choosing between full cream or skim. There’s now milk made from everything from soy to nuts to grains – which makes choosing the best option for your family a little confusing. To give you a helping hand, here’s your dietitian-approved run down of the most popular milks in the supermarket.

Let’s start with plain old cow’s milk. Although wellness gurus and Instagram celebs give cow’s milk a bad rap, it’s actually a very healthy option – in fact, it’s my number one recommendation. Yep, you heard it here first! That’s because cow’s milk is naturally packed with bone-strengthening calcium, as well as protein to support growing muscles. It’ll also give you a dose of Vitamin A for healthy eyes, potassium for your nervous system and zinc for wound healing. And what about the fat? Recent research has actually shown that full cream varieties are perfectly fine to include in a balanced diet – but here’s the catch: if you have diabetes, heart disease or are trying to lose weight, a reduced-fat variety is still your best bet.

If cow’s milk isn’t an option on your menu, my next top pick is soy. Made from soy beans, soy milk is rich in protein, and nowadays, most brands are fortified with calcium, so you’re not missing out on this important nutrient. Nonetheless, it’s important to check the label on the back of pack just to be sure – you’re looking for at least 100mg of calcium per 100mL.

My last resort for a milk alternative if cow’s and soy milk is off your menu is a ‘mylk’ made from nuts or grains. Although almond milk, oat milk and rice milk are in the spotlight as a ‘healthier’ (read: trendier) alternative, they’re actually not the best choice. You might be surprised to learn that these varieties are made by simply soaking the nut or grain in water, and then blitzing the mixture together. The end result is therefore mostly water, with a very low percentage of the nut or grain in question. Not exactly the miracle elixir they’re made out to be!

If you’re a numbers gal, here’s a breakdown of the nutritionals per 100mLs:

  • Cow’s (regular fat): 281kJ (67cal), 3.4g protein, 3.4g fat (2.2g sat fat), 6g carbs (6g sugar), 104mg calcium
  • Cow’s (skim): 142kJ (34cal), 3.6g protein, 0.1g fat (0.1g sat fat), 4.8g carbs (4.8g sugar), 118mg calcium
  • Calcium-fortified soy: 246kJ (59cal), 3.7g protein, 2.7g fat (0.3g sat fat), 4.6g carbs (2.6g sugar), 115mg calcium
  • Almond: 143kJ (34cal), 0.6g protein, 2.7g fat (0.2g sat fat), 2g carbs (1.9g sugar), 67mg calcium
  • Oat: 222kJ (53cal), 1.5g protein, 2.1g fat (0.3g sat fat), 6.5g carbs (0.1g sugar), 5mg calcium

And there you have it! My top tips on choosing the healthiest milk for your family.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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