For thousands of years, we’ve been drinking milk from cows. Milk, cream, butter, yogurt, and cheese were defined as the only dietary sources of calcium growing up. Dairy was the main food source and a staple for many families. After all, our parents were simply following the advice given generation after generation of how dairy was the only valuable source of bone-building properties.
Contrary to this understanding, over the last few decades, research has shown that dairy is a commonly experienced food sensitivity, with symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Approximately 65% of the world’s population has lost its ability to digest lactose, a type of sugar naturally found in dairy. This is often referred to as being lactose intolerant. Additionally, a dairy allergy can also be as severe as an anaphylaxis reaction.
Did you grow up drinking cow’s milk?
Through the many years we learned that plenty of foods, aside from dairy, are also just as rich in calcium, such as nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, and sardines. In fact, dairy-free milk alternatives, derived from plants and nuts, was born and became increasingly popular, and for a good reason.
Plant milks, like soy, did not “catch on” until the end of the 20th century. It is believed that the creation of a soy milk plant in 1934 by Henry Ford is what began the quest for dairy-free milk alternatives.
Plant-based milks have so many health benefits. There are also a wide variety of different options and types when selecting the right plant-based milk for you.
Here are some popular dairy-free milk alternatives:
Coconut milk is one of the creamiest dairy alternatives. It is absolutely brimming in healthy fats that may help to reduce internal inflammation, not to mention it’s good news for your complexion. You can say hello to dewy, hydrated skin! It also has amazing heart benefits and helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, if not decrease high levels. Coconut milk is common in various international cuisines, including curry dishes.
This is another popular option because it has a pleasant taste and is super smooth and creamy as well. In fact, cashews are a key ingredient in making vegan cheese – yum! Cashew milk has a whole heap of benefits thanks to its dense nutritional content. Some of these benefits include aiding in blood clotting, boosting immunity and balancing blood sugar, to even providing anti-cancer benefits.
If you’ve heard of plant-based milk, you may already be familiar with almond milk. Almond milk has a decent amount of potassium, a mineral that is excellent for helping to calm feelings of anxiety. It’s a good source of calcium and rich in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is excellent for reducing stress and inflammation in the body. If possible, purchase organic almond milk, as almonds are quite high in pesticides.
Other notable plant-based milks include oat milk, hemp milk, rice milk, and quinoa milk. They all come with their own individual benefits for both health and cooking. If you have a nut or soy allergy, you can still enjoy plant-based milks, such as flaxseed milk and legume-based milks.
Not only do nut, grain, and seed milks contain a variety of vitamins, other benefits of plant-based milks are as follows:
Vegan-friendly – since non-dairy milk is derived from plants.
Eco-conscious – lower environmental impact than dairy milk.
Lactose-free – easier on the digestive system for those who are lactose-intolerant.
Health benefits of cow’s milk
Don’t get us wrong, dairy also carries its own benefits as well. It’s packed with nutritional value of essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, vitamin A, and protein. Cows are not the only animal that we can reap the benefits of dairy. Sheep and goat dairy products are also popular and just as creamy. Some suggest that the latter two may be a little gentler for our bodies to digest.
If you’re looking to swap out dairy permanently or looking to make a small substitute, there are many options of plant-based milks out there that may be a perfect fit for your needs and taste buds!
Remember, although both dairy and plant-based milks have their own benefits and advantages, what works for one person, may not necessarily work for another. Choose what is right for your body and your unique health needs.