I’ve recently heard about the dangers of processed cow’s milk, and since then I’ve been looking for a healthier alternative to this everyday drink. There are many milk substitutes available on the market right now. I wasn’t sure which one I should use, so I decided to try three different versions—soy milk, almond milk, and rice milk—to pick which one I liked the best.
Milk substitutes are more expensive than cow's milk, but they are generally healthier for you.
Photo by Mowie Kay/Courtesy Flickr
Immediately I could rule out rice milk (it tasted a bit like water to me). However, both soy milk and almond milk had a pleasant taste and consistency, so I found myself stumped. Which one should I choose?
Soy milk and almond milk are both loaded with health benefits:
• Soy milk is lower in calories, saturated fats, sugars and carbohydrates than cow’s milk, and it is completely cholesterol-free. It is also a good natural source of fiber and protein, which can bulk up your muscle mass help you feel fuller longer. Soy milk contains isoflavones, natural chemicals similar to estrogen. These isoflavones may help decrease the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and high blood pressure. I thought the soy milk had a thick, sort of “beany” taste.
• Almond milk contains fewer calories and less fat than cow’s milk, and it is free of cholesterol and saturated fats. Levels of vitamin E, manganese and selenium are also high in almond milk, all of which are incredibly beneficial to your health. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, manganese helps break down consumed food into energy, and selenium improves your reproductive and immune system as well as your thyroid function. While soy milk is not a great source of calcium, almond milk has 30 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake. Almond milk tasted lighter and more nutty than the soy milk.
However, I’ve found that each milk substitute is not without its risks. Almond milk in particular can inhibit thyroid function because it interferes with iodine intake. Deficiency of iodine can, in extreme cases, result in goiter. Soy milk, on the other hand, has more dangers than I thought it did. Excessive use of soy products has been shown to lead to breast cancer and abdominal cancer. It also lowers testosterone levels in men and can cause abnormalities in the female reproductive tract, sometimes leading to infertility. The aluminum in soy milk also negatively affects the nervous system and kidneys.
In the end, I’ve decided I’m going with almond milk. It was delicious and nutritious (and it had fewer risks attached to it). Nevertheless, both milk substitutes are a good alternative to avoiding the growth hormones, steroids and chemicals found in pasteurized and homogenized milk. In the end, it comes down to your own personal preference.
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