Fresh cold milk in a tall glass by The Healthy RD

Plant-Based Milk or Cow’s Milk: How to Choose

Choosing the Best Milk

Plant-based milk or cow’s milk: which is best for health?  With so many new options on the market, the shelves can be very confusing. So many healthy-looking milk products are also loaded with sugar.  Find out how to choose the best milk option here.

My Personal Story of Milk-Drinking

There is nothing like a great big glass of ice cold milk, or so I am told.

Milk-drinking has always been a struggle for me, even as a child.  I remember dreading the cup at breakfast and then dreading the milk carton at lunch.  This was the early 80’s and teachers made sure we drank ALL of our milk.

If I do choose to have milk around, plant-based, cow’s milk or otherwise, I strive to get organic whenever possible.

Needless to say, the type of milk to choose for best taste is a little out of my palate, so I am very grateful to have a guest blogger this week who was generous to tackle this topic for me.

Jenna Gorham RD, is an inspiring young dietitian who has a practical approach to food and nutrition; it should be whole, simple, and wait for this….fun!

Yes, food should be fun.  I totally agree, Jenna.  I hope you enjoy the information here from Jenna, and make sure to read her blog and links included at the bottom.

From Jenna:

With so many new milk products on the market, it can be confusing to know which one you should be drinking. Many people confidently switch to almond milk thinking it’s a healthier choice than dairy. But is it really?

There are pros and cons to all types of milks.

 Milk Considerations for Your Individual Needs

Cow’s milk is the simplest, most natural form of milk. It is a balanced source of carbs, protein, and fat and naturally has many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

If you are allergic to milk (2-4% of kids are) or lactose intolerant, a plant-based milk may be a better option. If not, cow’s milk is a great source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients.

Many plant-based milks now add in nutrients, like calcium, vitamin D, and B12 at values that are comparable cow’s milk.

Nut-based milks are obviously not nut-allergy friendly and oat and coconut milks may not be suitable for FODMAP diets.

Some varieties of plant-based milks may also have added oils and gums which some people may not tolerate well.

Choosing milk that is best for you depends on your own dietary needs and lifestyle. While there are plenty of healthy alternatives to cow’s milk, they may not necessarily be healthier.

Make an Informed Choice

If you are considering switching from cow’s milk to plant-based milk, I would suggest choosing a variety that has added calcium and vitamin D and is free of artificial sweeteners.

Personally, I love cow’s milk. I love the taste, it’s the most affordable, and it is naturally nutrient dense. But, I find I don’t drink a ton of it and when I buy it it is often wasted.

Instead, I keep soy milk in my pantry because it is shelf stable and I have it on hand when I need it for a smoothie or another recipe. If I were to drink a glass of plant-based milk, I think the Bolthouse Farms unsweetened milk tastes the absolute best.

Below you’ll find the nutrition content of a variety of milk options to help you make a more informed choice.

Oat Milk and Cow Milk Nutrition Facts


Ripple (Pea) Milk and Silk Soy Milk Nutrition Facts

Ripple milk and soy milk nutrition comparison by The Healthy RD

 Bolthouse Farms (Pea) Milk and Almond Breeze Almond Milk Nutrition Facts

Bolthouse Farms and Almond Breeze Nutrition Comparison by The Healthy RD

Chart of Milk Nutrition Comparison

Jenna Gorham, RD

Jenna Gorham, RD by The Healthy RD

Check out Jenna Gorham’s great website and resources:

Read more from me at The Healthy RD

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