Health food stores today offer many options to dairy milk. However, while they all look like milk, they definitely taste different.
 Why should I be aware of this?
People avoid dairy based milk for a variety of reasons. A vegan wants to avoid animal products. Someone maybe suffering from lactose intolerance, making it difficult to digest dairy based milk. There are a variety of good substitutes for milk available these days.
 Milk alternatives and health
Though cow's milk is a valuable source of protein as well as calcium necessary for building strong and healthy bones, some researchers believe that saturated fats in cow’s milk contribute in a big way to weight problems, raise cholesterol levels and cause artery blockage.
Milk alternatives such as soymilk actually reduce the body’s cholesterol levels. It also contains isoflavones, natural plant hormones that act as antioxidants and have been linked to many human health benefits including the easing of menopause symptoms, protection against prostate problems, better bone health and even a reduction in heart disease and cancer risks. Almond milk is not only lactose free but is free of antibiotics and growth hormones. Almonds are a rich source of magnesium and Vitamin E, as well as selenium, and manganese. Most commercial almond milk manufacturers fortify their almond milk with additional calcium. Oat milk is naturally low in fat and a good source of Vitamin E, calcium, and fiber. Hemp milk has calcium, Vitamin E, the B vitamins, and is high protein.
 All about milk alternatives
 Almond Milk
Though it contains only 2 grams of protein per 8 ounces, almond milk is rich in magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. With a nice sweet, nutty flavor and a good consistency, almond milk is good for drinking as well as a good dairy substitute in cooking.
 Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and 6 essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorous. It is commonly fortified with other vitamins and minerals.
 Oat Milk
Oat milk is high in fiber, cholesterol and is lactose free. It contains vitamin E, folic acid, and other trace elements and minerals. Oats are also rich in phytochemicals, naturally occurring chemicals in plants that help fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It is suitable for people with multiple allergies, though not good for those with gluten intolerance.
 Rice Milk
Processed from brown rice, rice milk contains rice syrup, evaporated cane juice or another natural sweetener and is fortified with calcium or vitamin D. Sweet and watery, rice milk is a good dairy substitute for cooking, but should not be used as a replacement for nutrients.
 Soy Milk
Soy milk is significantly more processed than the other milk alternatives. Soy contains phytoestrogens, a plant-based compound that scientists think may help prevent some cancers. But researchers fear that over consumption can have negative effects. Soy also contains non-digestible carbohydrates called oligosaccharides. Soy milk may also curdle at higher temperatures making cooking a trickier undertaking. The US Food and Drug Administration supports the claims that diet that includes 25 grams of soy protein a day is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
 What can I do about it
With all of that in mind, here is a quick round up of the alternatives. One of the reasons that milk is so popular is because it is an excellent source of fortified (added) calcium, B12, riboflavin, and vitamin D. Milk alternatives won’t automatically contain those ingredients, so be sure to look for a brand that is fortified.
 Read the Labels
Also, when selecting a milk alternative be sure to compare nutritional labels. You’ll be amazed by the amount of sugar some of these products have. Soy and other milk alternatives are likely to contain an overdose of sugar and much lower in protein than regular milk. It is, therefore, essential to read the label carefully.
The amount of calcium the body absorbs from fortified soymilk is less than it does from cow’s milk. Hence, though soy milk may contain the same amount of calcium as cow's milk, you have to drink more of it to get the same benefits. According to findings from researchers in Creighton University the body absorbs about 25 percent less calcium from soymilk than from cow's milk. To make up the calcium deficiency in soy milk, manufacturers fortify them with calcium salts. However, the amount of calcium salts added is not regulated and may vary from 80 to 500 milligrams a serving.
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