Earlier this month, former cricketer Brett Lee launched a brand of almond milk in India. The announcement got many health enthusiasts discussing the benefits of such dairy substitutes. According to Kanchan Patwardhan, nutritionist, Kanchan’s House Of Health And Nutrition Centre, the fact that “you cannot really bet on the purity of commercially available milk” these days has made these substitutes even more relevant.
“For example, the A1 grade of cow’s milk comes from hybrid cows. Their quality is questionable because hybrid cows are given hormonal injections. Hence, I suggest that if you cannot give up traditional milk altogether, then go for desi cow’s milk. It is the same as A2 grade of milk,” says Patwardhan.
However, when it comes to naming the best substitute for milk, experts remain divided. “According to me, if you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk, coconut milk is a better option. It contains important micronutrients such as calcium and magnesium,” says Dr Seemma Saadikha, functional medicine expert, founder Namma Mitra Foundation. Patwardhan, on the other hand, feels almond milk is the best substitute. Here, we list some other popular dairy substitutes and their health benefits:
It is a rich source of phosphorus, which prevents memory loss and improve energy levels. It also contains selenium that prevents arthritis, magnesium that calms the nerves, and capris acid, which has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It is best-suited for those who are lactose intolerant and those with thyroid problems.
It is rich in different types of vitamin B. The antioxidants in it make it an excellent detoxifier. It also reduces water retention and aids in digestion. The dietary benefits depend on the thickness of the milk, as there is no standard formula to make it. Hence, calculating one’s recommended daily allowance is tricky.
It is rich in protein, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. It helps bones grow and strengthens the muscles and nervous system. It also has anti-ageing properties.
It is rich in calcium, fibre and iron. It not only prevents osteoporosis, it also strengthens the bones, teeth and muscles. Oat milk is known to prevent epilepsy and paralysis.
It has all the micronutrients, and is a good source of magnesium and omega 3. Almond milk has a low glycemic index, limited carbohydrates and more protein. Hence, it helps diabetics. However, homemade almond milk is considered better than the commercial varieties available because they tend to contain additives.
The new superfood, hemp seeds are gaining more popularity than quinoa these days. Hemp milk is a rich source of calcium, protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids. It is also used to treat degenerative disorders.
It is rich in protein and phytoestrogen — both help lower cholesterol levels. However, in the long run, if consumed in excess, phytoestrogen can lead to hormonal imbalances. Consuming 100millilitre of soy milk daily is considered beneficial.
With inputs from Dhvani Shah, healing diet specialist, FIMS Clinic.