One look around the grocery store and you’ll see non-dairy milks are booming right now, and for good reason. Non-dairy (or plant-based) milks are healthier and better for the environment than cow’s milk, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. They contain fewer calories and saturated fat, require less land and water, and produce fewer greenhouse gases.
Whether you’ve decided to ditch dairy for health reasons (eg, lactose allergies) or for ethical reasons (eg, veganism), there’s no shortage of plant-based milk options. Almond, soy, oat, cashew, coconut, rice and pea milks are more popular than ever. According to Statist, plant-based milk substitutes now generate more than $3 billion in annual sales in the United States.
Although the term “dairy-free” may sound healthy, many non-dairy milks contain added sugars and emulsifiers designed to mimic the rich taste and creamy texture of cow’s milk. Some plant milks also contain carrageenan, a harmful additive used to thicken and emulsify foods. Carrageenan is extracted from a red algae called Irish moss, which allows manufacturers to label their product as natural or herbal.
To avoid harmful preservatives, additives and questionable ingredients in your non-dairy milks, these five brands should be left in the supermarket fridge aisle. As for which non-dairy milks you should buy, we have what you need.
The healthiest oat milks are a simple concoction of oats (preferably organic) and water, without a lot of added ingredients. Silk Original oat milk is not one of them. It contains a bunch of additives, including sunflower oil, a known inflammatory. “This oat milk is banned with a long list of pro-inflammatory oils, additives, gums and preservatives,” according to a dietitian. Sarah Rueven, MS, RDN, CDN, Founder of Rooted Wellness. It’s also non-organic, low in protein (just 1 gram), and relatively high in added sugars (7 grams).
Cleverly marketed as a healthy dairy alternative, this almond milk raises flags as soon as you look at the ingredient list. “When you choose almond milk, you expect almonds to be the first (or at least the second) ingredient listed on the label. But with this almond milk, almonds are the number one ingredient. three, just after cane sugar”, explains Brittany Lubeck, DR, dietitian and nutrition writer. “Plus, this almond drink contains carrageenan, an ingredient linked to inflammation, bloating, gastrointestinal disorders, and even certain cancers.”
It’s also low in protein and high in added sugar (8 grams per serving). According to the American Heart Association, added sugars are inflammatory and increase your risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and certain types of cancer. When you can, opt for unsweetened non-dairy milk varieties to limit your added sugar intake.
This oat milk could be a delicious and creamy addition to your morning coffee, but the 7 grams of added sugar per cup make it an unwise choice to consume daily. Trista Best, Dt.P.registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements, says AND N !, “Oat milk has the added benefit of containing very little to no potential allergens by being free of soy, dairy and tree nuts. However, this particular version contains […] canola oil, [an ingredient] which adds a significant amount of calories from fat.”
Cane sugar is one of the three main ingredients of this soymilk (which are listed in order of quantity). Although cane sugar is organic, the 4 grams per cup can still raise your blood sugar and lead to unwanted side effects, such as high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. These conditions increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Soy Dream Fortified Soymilk provides other ingredients that you will want to avoid. “This milk contains unwanted additives, like carrageenan and tricalcium phosphate,” says Lubeck. “A diet high in processed foods containing these and other additives could lead to increased inflammation and other health problems.”
At first glance, this coconut milk may seem excellent for your health. However, So Delicious coconut milk is loaded with additives and stabilizers, such as guar gum and xanthan gum. These food additives may be commonly used in many products, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
Lubeck explains, “Coconut milk should contain no more than 2.4 grams of guar gum per serving. This is because consuming too much guar gum can cause swelling and inflammation. Additionally, xanthan gum can lead to digestive issues, like gas and changes. in bowel habits.”
A version of this story was originally published in August 2022. It has been updated to include new information.
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