Years ago, milk used to be the only beverage in the dairy aisle. Soy milk, though available for years, had a huge surge in popularity in the 1980s. These days not only can you find a variety of plant-based milk alternatives, but also fermented dairy drinks such as yogurt drinks and kefir.
Traditional cow’s milk is a nutrient dense part of one’s diet due primarily to its protein and calcium content. But not everyone is able to include cow’s milk in their diet, therefore having so many alternatives is beneficial. However, not all milk alternatives are equal and it’s important to be aware of what to look for.
One of the factors to look at is the added sugar. Limiting added sugar in one’s diet is recommended for various health reasons. Many believe cow’s milk, due to the sugar content, should be avoided, however the sugar in milk is naturally a part of milk, not added, and therefore can easily be a part of a healthy diet. However, some of the other milk and yogurt drinks do have substantial amounts of added sugar, as much as two to four teaspoons per serving.
Keep these things in mind when checking out the dairy aisle:
Lactose intolerance: Difficulty digesting lactose, milk sugar, doesn’t mean you need to ban milk. Lactose-reduced milks, lactase supplements, and other dairy alternatives may make enjoying dairy possible.
Yogurt: The benefits of yogurt and kefir drinks are the probiotics they provide which can help promote a healthy digestive system. Consider including them as part of your dairy rotation.
Nutrients: Cow’s milk is an ideal combination of protein and calcium, but not all alternatives stack up the same way. If you’re choosing an alternative beverage, be sure to check the nutrition facts panel to find out which nutrients you might be missing out on so you can make them up with other food choices.
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