Kids & Company Blog

I Need A Dairy Godmother!

Whole milk, 2%, 1%, skim, soy, rice, almond, coconut, oat… with such a large selection of milk products available today shopping for milk can be time consuming and confusing. Maybe you’ve always drank the same milk your entire life or you randomly select one at the grocery store – follow this guide to find out about the milks you do and do not know about! With all this new knowledge about the different milks available, you can choose the best dairy or non-dairy milk product that fits your family’s needs!

The dairy food group provides us with protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin... the list can go on and on! But dairy as a food group doesn’t just mean cow milk… almond and soy milk also give similar benefits. Ideally, we need around 2-4 servings of dairy a day, which is 250mL or one cup of milk per serving.This amount differs depending on one’s gender, age and physical activity. Nutritionally and functionally these milk products are all quite different so which one to choose will be determined by an individual’s preference and health status.

Here’s the breakdown of some popular milks!

Cow’s milk:
This is the most common milk and is produced by the mammary glands of dairy cows. Cow’s milk comes in whole milk, 2%, 1% or skim. The only difference among these cow’s milk are the percentage of fat but they still share the same amount of nutrients. Cow’s milk is very high in protein and is a “complete protein”, meaning it contains all essential amino acids that the body needs to break down protein. Cow’s milk also has high calcium and vitamin B12 content. B12 is a very important vitamin that can only be found naturally in animal products. A problem with cow’s milk is it is high in saturated fat as well as a common allergy product.

Soy milk:
Like cow’s milk, soy milk is a complete protein. Soy milk has 8g of protein for every 8 ounces. Soy milk is a good dairy free option when you are concerned about protein intake and it will also help fill you up! Similar to almond milk, it’s best to opt for the non-sweetened soy milks as they already have a unique sweet flavour to them!

Rice milk:
Rice milk is a grain milk made from brown rice and commonly unsweetened. The sweetness in most rice milk varieties is generated by a natural enzymatic process that turns the carbohydrates into sugars. Compared to cow's milk, rice milk contains more carbohydrates, but does not contain significant amounts of calcium or protein, and no cholesterol or lactose. Commercial brands of rice milk are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and iron.

Almond milk:
Almond milk is one of the most popular dairy free milks because of its low sugar and calorie content as well as it’s yummy sweet nutty flavour! Almond milk is rich in vitamin E, low sodium, and is cholesterol and lactose free. Almond milk is a great alternative for those who avoid dairy or are lactose intolerant. The only downside with almond milk is it is low in protein. Most grocery store almond milks have 1g of protein for every serving but there are fresh almond milks out there with up to 9g of protein! Be careful when buying sweetened almond milks as they typically have a high sugar content and are better consumed once in a while! Try to opt for the unsweetened options.

Coconut milk:
Many people can get coconut milk and coconut water confused! Coconut milk is not the liquid inside the coconut, that’s know as coconut water. Coconut milk is made by shredding the “meat” of a fresh coconut than simmering it in water. The left-over fat from this simmer is combined with coconut water to make milk. Coconut milk has a similar creamy texture to cow’s milk, which makes it an easy substitute. It also has a unique taste which people either love or hate. Although coconut milk is tasty and is a great when used in many recipes, drinking it as your only milk source is not recommended as it does not contain any protein.

Oat milk
Oat milk is very popular in Sweden and is slowly being adapted by the western world! Oat milk is a good option for those allergic to nuts and soy. It is high in fibre and contains beta-glucans, which is a sugar found in oats that can be immune boosting. Oat milk can be low in protein and vitamins and higher in fat than other non-dairy milks.

It’s important to know and try different milks which best suit you and your family. Each type of milk has its own plethora of benefits – it just depends on personal preference and/or dietary restrictions. Make sure you check the sugar content in non-dairy products because they can sneak up on you! Milk products are a crucial source of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D and protein – so try to get enough for you and your littles to consume throughout your day, whether it’s in your morning cereal, coffee or just as a nice cold glass of milk!

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Chef Lisa Ruscica

Chief Food Ambassador

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