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How to pick the best milk option for your lifestyle

Each milk option has benefits and drawbacks, so picking the best one is all about balance.

DENVER — Perusing the milk aisle can be incredibly overwhelming these days. As if choosing between whole milk and skim wasn’t stressful enough, now we have rice milk, almond milk, and even hemp milk to choose from. 

So how do you know which is the right pick for you? Unfortunately, there’s no one perfect choice for everyone. Read on to see which is the best for you and your lifestyle. 

Cow’s milk

Contrary to popular belief, all cow’s milk regardless of variety in fat content has eight grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 300 milligrams of calcium. If muscle building is your goal, cow’s milk is likely the best choice since it contains the highest amount of protein of all of the milk sources.

Soy milk

Soy milk has the highest protein of all of the non-dairy milk varieties. Soy milk is a great choice for anyone who has a dairy allergy or intolerance, but is still aiming to get enough protein in their diet.

Almond milk

If your goal is weight loss, unsweetened almond milk may be a great choice for you. At just 30 calories per cup, almond milk is a tasty, low calorie way to get in your calcium. Just keep in mind that almond milk is low in protein, so make sure you are getting protein from other sources.

Oat milk

Great for anyone with a nut or dairy allergy who needs a dose of daily calcium. Oat milk is also the highest of all of the milks (including cow’s) in carbohydrates and is not one of the lower calorie options, so it may not be the best choice if weight loss is a goal.

Hemp milk

After soy milk, hemp milk has the highest protein of any of the non-dairy milks. Hemp milk is great for those who avoid soy, but still want to pack some protein into their drink. Keep in mind, however, that hemp milk is still not considered a “good source” of protein and is not considered low calorie.

Cashew milk

Unsweetened cashew milk is a great choice if your goal is weight loss. At 25 calories a cup, this one takes the cake for weighing in at the lowest calorie option. Keep in mind, however, that cashew milk contains no protein. It is also a great source of calcium if fortified.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is great for anyone with a nut or dairy allergy. Like most of the non-dairy milks, it contains no protein. Coconut milk is moderately low in calories. It does contain a moderate amount of fat, which can help with feelings of satiety.

Choosing between the many sources of dairy and non-dairy milks is largely a matter of personal choice in terms of tolerance, goals, use, and preference.

Low calorie unsweetened almond and unsweetened cashew milk might be a better choice for people who are trying to hit specific daily caloric goals or those who already obtain a lot of protein from other foods in their diet. 

For people trying to gain weight, build muscle, or obtain more natural nutrients (cow’s milk has naturally occurring calcium, whereas most non-dairy sources are fortified), cow’s milk may make the most sense.

It hopefully goes without saying that the sweetened versions of any milk are never the best choice. Calcium varies in non-dairy milks depending on each brand’s fortification, so be sure to check labels.

Each milk option has both benefits and drawbacks, so picking the best milk for you is more about balance than one right or wrong choice. 

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