Decoding the milk aisle

 
By Mina Radman • Published: December 11th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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The milk aisle at supermarkets these days can be intimidating. Long gone are the days of simple dairy; the shelves are now lined with a variety of milk options that confuse both the definition of the word milk and the shopper.

Today you can buy various types of milk: soymilk, coconut milk, lactose-free milk and almond milk, among others. With all these choices, it may seem difficult to choose the healthiest one for you, but it’s actually not. Here’s a simple breakdown of the options.

Lactose-free milk is dairy milk that has had the lactose enzyme removed. It’s made for people who have lactose intolerance and cannot properly digest the enzyme. Lactose-free milk is made from cow’s milk, like standard dairy milk, and is a great source of protein and calcium.

For vegans and people with a complete allergy to dairy milk, or those wanting to try something new, there are also milks derived from plants.

Soymilk is the most common form of non-dairy milk that is commercially available. It’s made from soaking soybeans in water, then collecting and packaging the liquid. This type of milk is naturally high in essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It can help keep you full and tastes the most similar to dairy milk.

Coconut milk, a relatively new plant-based milk on the market, has a consistency more like water than milk. However, the beverage is high in saturated fat, which isn’t good for anyone with a history of heart disease.

Almond milk is a popular, non-dairy option that contains zero cholesterol and is free of saturated fat, so it’s a healthy option for people at risk of heart disease. Almond milk is lower in calories and total fat than soymilk and other-plant-based milks, but it’s not a great source of protein.

Dairy or plant? With all these options, there’s surely a perfect milk match out there for you.