Ten years ago the dairy section of your grocery store contained dairy products. You know – stuff from cows? Milk, cream, cheese, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and maybe a couple of brands of yogurt.
Now you need a culinary dictionary to figure out what’s what.
Milk was easy to pick. Skim, 1%, 2%, or whole.
Now everyone and their cousin have a new milk on the shelf.
So let’s clear up the big controversy right away.
If the liquid you’re drinking that came from the dairy case didn’t come from a mammal, it isn’t milk.
Cows have four legs, so the milk from cows is called milk, and goats, the last time I checked have four legs, so the milk coming from goats is milk. Mammals make milk.
But anything from a soybean, an almond or a grain of rice isn’t. None of these are mammals so that’s why they are called beverages. Legally they aren’t milk, so don’t be calling them that.
Any winners in the nutrition department?
From a calcium point of view, cow’s milk is a winner, but not by much. One serving of cow’s milk 1 cup (250 mL) comes in with around 315 mg of bone building calcium.
Soy, almond, and rice have all been fortified with calcium and are just a tiny bit lower, ringing in with about 300 mg per serving. If you are drinking any of these beverages instead of milk, as long as you shake them well they are good picks in the calcium department.
What really separates the men from the boys is in the protein department.
Milk and soy beverages all contain about 6-9 g of protein per serving, which is a good thing. That protein helps you feel fuller longer and we all need protein to protect our lean muscle mass from leaving the building, aka our bodies.
Rice and almond beverages are very low protein sources ranging from 0.4 g – 1 g per serving, which might explain why you feel hungry after a serving of one of these.
My two favourite picks from a health as well as a flavour stand point are skim cow’s milk and organic soy beverage.
If the flavour of skim milk isn’t to your liking try the fine filtered varieties, giving that skim milk the mouth feel of 1% without the added fat.
Soy drinkers if you’re watching your grams of added sugars than choose an unsweetened soy beverage. There are several companies who make this type. My personal favourite is a Canadian product called Natur-a.
And speaking of added sugars, then there’s chocolate milk.
I have been a huge fan of low fat chocolate milk as an after workout or post sports event drink for years. Full of protein, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and carbohydrates, chocolate milk helps your muscles recover faster. But it does have a lot of added sugars. So don’t be willy nilly chugging a litre in the name of health. One serving is fine. Try making your own chocolate milk by adding a little bit of either homemade chocolate syrup using natural cocoa powder (water and a sweetener of your choice to make a paste) or use a commercial brand. Just a little bit is the key here.