Many people are now aware that milk can be crafted from a diverse array of sources, including cows, goats, flax, and coconuts. While each type of milk has certain benefits, some types of milk might be better for people who have gastrointestinal issues, intolerance, or allergies. There are typically over a dozen different types of milk sold in stores, and many of the non-dairy kinds of milk are becoming more popularly demanded and stocked on shelves.
The following 13 types of milk are considered to be the healthiest for human consumption. Of course, each one has different benefits and is best used for various purposes.
First off, there is whole milk. Whole milk has a creamy and thick texture and a rich taste to it. The average container of whole milk contains about 150 calories. It usually has 8g of fat and 5g of saturated fat, making it one of the fattier types of milk available. It’s also relatively high in cholesterol (35mg) and sodium (130mg). However, it does pack in 8 g of protein and makes up 30% of the calcium daily value (DV).
2% milk is one of the most commonly-purchased types of milk. In fact, between 1975 and 2014, sales of 2% milk increased by 106% while those of whole milk decreased. While it has long been speculated that 2% is healthier than whole milk, it is still high in calories (130) and sodium (130mg).
Like 2%, skim milk has also become more popular since the 1970’s. What makes skim milk different is that, when processed, the cream is separated from the whey and not added back in as it is with whole and 2%. Skim generally contains 90 calories and under 5g of cholesterol. It is slightly higher in sodium (135mg) than whole or 2% but does not contain saturated fats. It is also slightly higher in protein (9g), so those needing extra protein can benefit from drinking skim milk.
Sweeter than cow’s milk and higher in its caloric count (150), goat’s milk works best in yogurt since it’s so sweet. It, too, contains 30% of the calcium DV and has 8g of protein. However, it is fairly high in cholesterol (30mg) and sodium (120mg).
Contrary to goat’s milk, almond milk is nutty in taste and watery in texture. It has a high calcium DV of 45% and is low in calories (30), fat (2.5g), and has no cholesterol. It is also low in terms of carbs and protein. Its sodium content is one of the highest found in milk, coming in at about 180mg. As with other nondairy milk, it can be used for baking/cooking, with cereal, or mixed in with protein powder for a healthy shake.
Like almond milk, cashew milk contains almost no protein. It does, however, have a creamy texture that makes it ideal to use in coffee and for preparing alfredo sauce. Cashew milk is low in calories, contains no cholesterol, and has just 3g of carbs.
While not currently as popular as other nondairy milk, flax milk has some benefits. It is extremely low in calories and is cholesterol-free. Also, it has 80g of sodium, which is significantly less than that found in dairy-based milk products. Unfortunately, it contains no dietary protein or fiber and has a bland taste.
Oat milk, which is also slowly gaining some popularity, is being used for breakfast foods, including pancakes. It has a somewhat sweet taste and is an excellent source of calcium (35% of the DV). However, oat milk has more carbs than coconut, hemp, flax, or soy milk. It has a modest amount of protein (about 4g) and contains some fiber.
Organic hemp milk has numerous benefits, including iron, potassium, and all 10 essential amino acids. It is low in carbs and calories but has about 125mg of sodium.
Hazelnut milk has a rich taste and creamy texture that goes well with a cup of coffee. Hazelnut is higher in carbs than hemp and has about as much sodium. It is usually gentle on the gut and provides about 30% of the calcium DV.
Coconut milk is one of the most popular and gentle forms of nondairy milk. It is slightly sour but not overpowering, making it an ideal base for yogurt and ice cream. It only has about 45 calories and no cholesterol or sodium. However, it only gives about 10% of the calcium DV.
Sweet and rich, rice milk is a good option for use on cereal. While it only gives 2% of the calcium DV and is loaded with carbs (23g), it is cholesterol-free and low in fat.
Finally, we come to the most popular dairy alternative, soy milk. Soy milk is thicker and sweeter than almond or hazelnut milk and has a stronger taste. It is fairly low in carbs, sodium, and calories. It does, however, have 4g of fat and 0.5g saturated fat. Some individuals with leaky gut and other autoimmune symptoms should avoid this soy-based product, as it might trigger some reactions.
Milk and nondairy alternatives are all easy to locate in most grocery stores. As the above information shows, the healthiest type of milk really depends on a person’s unique health needs.