4 min|Rhiannon Lockhart
Your Guide to Choosing Non-Dairy MilkNutrition
So, you’ve made the choice to go dairy-free - or at least swap your milk.
Whether it was due to food sensitivities, aiming to reduce overall inflammation or just your dietary preference, you’re making a great choice for your overall health! While some people can tolerate cow's dairy, I find many people benefit from eliminating or reducing their dairy intake. This can help relieve hormonal issues, inflammation and digestive discomfort.
However, the first thing I see clients do when they make the swap from cow’s dairy is reach for non-dairy alternatives that are filled with sugar and include little to no nutritional value. Many of the non-dairy milks are fortified to include additional vitamins and minerals we require. Most commonly, you’ll see vitamins D and B12.
Generally, there are a few things you want to ensure you do when choosing a non-dairy milk:
- Choose unsweetened, always. Whether they use cane sugar or rice syrup, most of us don't need the additional sugar in our diet.
- Find ones with the least fillers if possible. Scroll to the bottom of this blog for some of my favourite options.
- Always check for the gluten-free label if that is necessary for you. While many of these milks are naturally gluten-free, it is necessary to ensure the facility is if you live with celiac disease or have an extreme sensitivity.
Here are some pros and cons of each non-dairy alternative milks:
Pros: Low in calories and carbohydrates, typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D
Cons: Very little protein, generally contains a variety of fillers, common allergen.
Pros: high in protein, is quite creamy and goes well in coffee.
Cons: lower in other nutrients, soy may cause problems for some, soy tends to be highly genetically modified.
Pros: low in calories and carbohydrates, creamy, generally fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Cons: Common allergen, not a good option if dealing with candida issues, generally contains fillers.
Pros: lots of healthy fats to promote satiety, very creamy, can opt to choose canned coconut milk for denser texture/baking
Cons: both cans and cartons contain fillers (with a few exceptions)
Pros: commonly allergen free, naturally sweet.
Cons: higher in carbohydrates, contains fillers, little protein.
Pros: contains protein, low in carbohydrates, less common allergen.
Cons: taste is slightly bitter, can’t be used as widely as other non-dairy mylks.
Pros: oat mylk is probably one of the most loved non-dairy beverages out there right now! It’s creamy, has a natural sweetness, and goes great in a cup of coffee.
Cons: oats are highly contaminated and contain large amounts of a pesticide called glyphosate. It’s important to purchase organic oats, and this includes oat mylks.
Pros: taste is great, less common allergen than other nut mylks, becoming more common to find.
Cons: generally contains filler, may cost more than other non-dairy mylks.
Pros: high in protein, creamy, naturally high in calcium
Cons: contains fillers, flavour may bother some.
You’ll notice many of the above options contain fillers. This means it is up to you to decide if this is worth it. For some, non-dairy alternatives that use fillers cause more digestive distress, while others don’t have any ill effects. Try to avoid any that contain added vegetable oils as thickeners and emulsifiers, as these can be quite inflammatory.
A note on non-dairy creamers
If you are someone who opts for a “barista blend” or a “creamer” version of a non-dairy blend, be sure to check the ingredient label. In order to add thickness, many of these will have additional fillers.
Your best bet? Make your own!
Making your own nut or oat beverage doesn’t take as long as you think, plus it tastes way better than many of those you’ll find on the shelf. There are a variety of recipes you can find online, check out my video for easy almond milk!
Here are some of my top brands of non-dairy milks
- Elmhurst 1925: one of the few shelf-stable mylk brands that use minimal ingredients (usually just the nut/grain and water).
- Earth’s Own Naked Oat Milk: removes the fillers, and just includes organic oats, sea salt, water and enzymes.
- Nutmeg Mylk: Local Vancouver brand that makes small-batch nut mylks. These contain no fillers, and incorporate superfoods to add new and different flavours.
- Greenhouse: another small-batch brand, Greenhouse comes from Toronto, Ontario and has a variety of tasty flavours.
Want to learn more about making healthy swaps in your diet? Book an appointment with our holistic nutritionist!
Rhiannon is the Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Integrative. She has a passion for making healthy eating easy, accessible and fun, loves getting outside, and enjoys spending time with her dog, Chloe!