Got (almond, rice or soy) milk??
By: Martina Navratilova Source: AARP.org
Many people don’t get along well with cow’s milk because they’re lactose-intolerant, meaning they lack an enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Then there are those limiting their dairy intake to cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol, or on animal products in general. The challenge here is that many of our favorite dishes are prepared with dairy products, and they're so delicious, they're hard to give up. Fortunately, there are many great-tasting, plant-based alternatives on the market that serve as fine substitutes and are loaded with minerals such as zinc, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. Here’s a rundown:
Almond milk is my favorite, and I make my own. Soak 1 ½ cups of raw almonds in four cups of water overnight. Blend this mixture in a blender and strain it to remove the almond granules. The result is a delicious, creamy, nutritious milk that can be used over cereals and in smoothies. I love to mix a cup of my almond milk with a cup of raspberries and a little honey for a delicious smoothie. You can store this almond milk for three to four days in the refrigerator. Almond milk doesn’t have as much protein as cow’s milk, but it compensates by being loaded with other nutrients, such as vitamin E, an antioxidant compound that may play a role in prevention of many diseases.
Rice milk is yummy and tastes great on cereals. It’s not very high in protein, but happily, its fat content, at four grams of fat per cup, is less than that of whole milk, yet slightly higher than 2 percent milk.
Soy milk is another great option, and it comes in many flavors, from plain to vanilla to chocolate. It generally has a thicker, richer texture than cows' milk. Like the soybeans it comes from, soy milk contains lots of plant protein and isoflavones, which have been shown to modestly decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. It averages about four grams of fat per cup. Other great dairy substitutes made from soy include cheeses, yogurts, tofu, and ice creams.
All three of the plant-based milks can be enjoyed straight from the container, in drinks like smoothies, or in cooking or baking. When choosing a non-dairy milk, look for enriched products. Unfortified versions are low in several key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, both of which are key players in good health. Make sure to check and compare nutrition facts on the labels to be certain you’re getting the most for your bucks. Also, be sure to obtain bone-saving calcium through calcium-rich veggies, such as broccoli.
Now for those of you who love cow's milk, my advice is to choose low-fat organic milk and other low-fat, organic dairy foods. They’re produced differently from conventional dairy products—no antibiotics or growth hormones, and organic feed for the cows—but that doesn’t alter the nutrient content, taste, or cooking capability one bit. Buying organic foods is not necessarily expensive either, though shopping around pays off. Places like specialty stores, co-ops, gourmet delis, farmers’ markets, and community-supported agriculture programs, sell organic foods that are economically priced. With the growing demand for organic foods, the prices have come way down.