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Soy? Almond? Oat? What is the best plant-based milk to be consuming?




A question I get asked on a regular basis is which plant milk is the best to be consuming. Below is a rundown of the nutritional pros and cons of each milk, as well as some of my recommendations.


Plant-based milks vary greatly in nutritional content from brand to brand depending on wich nutrients they fortified with and the sugar content.


As well as looking a which type of milk to consume, there are a few important considerations to look out for when choosing a plant based milk. Here is a simple checklist of things to look for when selecting a plant-based milk.

  • 120mg Calcium per 100ml milk

  • B12 Fortification, Bonus if vitamin D as well.

  • 3g protein/100ml (similar to cows milk)

  • Opt for unsweetened where possible


This is important, as it ensures we can meet our requirements of these important nutrients. If the milk is not fortified correctly, you increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies on a plant based diet.



SOY:



Pros:

  • The nutritional profile is similar to cow's milk- One of the plant milks with the highest protein content.

  • Typically higher calcium content

  • Fat content can be adapted depending on whether you choose regular or lite varieties

  • Contains Isoflavones (read my blog post on soy here to find out the benefits of Isoflavones)

  • Usually minimal additives/thickeners.

  • Creamy and thick texture

  • Higher carbohydrate profile suitable for pre workout drinks


Cons:

  • Allergen

  • Potentially higher sugar content compared to other milks such as almond.


Best choices include Vitasoy range, So good, Coles and Woolworths brands. These brands met the requirements of 120mg of calcium per 100ml of milk and were fortified with B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and B2.



ALMOND:



Pros:

  • Low saturated fat

  • Low calorie if unsweetened

  • Typically higher calcium content - if fortified

  • Neutral taste

Cons:

  • Lower protein content compared to soy

  • Potentially higher sugar content

  • Watery texture

  • Allergen


The best choices were Vitasoy and So Good brands. My personal favourite is So Good Almond protein plus as it contains 10g of protein per cup.


OAT:




Pros:

  • Cholesterol-Lowering as it contains the soluble fibre, Beta Glucan which can help to lower cholesterol levels (LDL)

  • High fibre - 2g/cup

  • Low Saturated fats

  • Neutral taste


Cons:

  • Low protein content

  • Not suitable for coeliacs

  • Naturally higher sugar content

  • Not suitable for most diabetics as it is high GI.


Best choices were Oatly, So Good and Vitasoy


COCONUT:




Pros:

  • Low sugar if unsweetened

  • Works well in cakes/desserts

  • Nutty taste


Cons:

  • High saturated fat content - contributed to increasing LDL cholesterol.

  • Low protein


Best choices- So Good and Coles. However, Coles brand was not fortified with any other essential nutrients apart from calcium. Coconut milk is not something I typically recommend to consume on a regular basis.


RICE:



Pros:

  • Allergen friendly option

  • Low saturated fat


Cons:

  • Very low protein content

  • Higher in sugar

  • Rare to find fortified with B12



Best choice was Vitasoy, however was not fortified with any other nutrients other than calcium.



OTHER:



Pea - Higher protein content.


Cashew - Low sugar, however low protein content.


Hazelnut - Not fortified, low protein.



Best options - Australia's Own Pea milk ticks all the boxes being high in protein, containing 120mg of calcium and fortified with the essential nutrients. Nutritionally, it's a great milk.



Remember, this does not mean you can never use the other brands of milk that didn't meet the requirements. It just means they are not suitable to be used as a total milk replacement.



SUMMARY OF MY RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Soy is most superior in terms of nutrition due to its protein and calcium content. Nutritionally it is similar to cows milk as well as being low in saturated fats.

  • If you are choosing Almond milk, opt for a protein fortified and unsweetened option such as So Good high protein Almond variety.

  • Oat milks are good for pre workout fuel due to its higher carbohydrate content.

  • Rice milk may be beneficial from an allergen perspective but nutritionally offers very little.

  • Coconut is high in saturated (unhealthy) fat and low in protein. It does not offer much nutritionally, limit your intake to dessert options instead of a regular basis.

  • Pea milks contain higher amounts of protein and can serve as a good option.


Brand Recommendations:

  • Vitasoy Protein Plus unsweetened

  • Vitasoy Calci Plus

  • So Good High Protein+ Almond

  • InsideOut Milkish Almond Barista

  • So Good Soy and unsweetened almond

  • Vitasoy Oat Protein Plus Unsweetened

  • Australia's Own Like Milk Pea


If you want to find out more about your individual requirements, book a consultation with Sprout Nutrition today and Melissa can assist you with a personalised diet plan.


Author: This blog post was written by Melissa D'Elia (APD) Book your free discovery call now to find out how Melissa can assist you. Book a consultation now Disclaimer: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your Dietitian or GP for individualised advice. Copyright: 2022 Sprout Nutrition & Dietetics.

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