Choosing the best milk for you
By Casey O’Dell – Accredited Practising Dietitian
So, you might remember the advertisement on television around 10-15 years ago where the man walks into a corner store and asks for milk – that tastes like ‘real milk’. The shop owner names 7-8 varieties available, leaving the customer really confused. Imagine his face now! Also, spare a thought for the unsuspecting café owner who now needs to meet the milk variation needs of today’s consumers.
When choosing a milk, there are several nutrients you should consider including:
- Calcium: always aim for a milk that contains calcium– as long as it has ~300mg calcium per serve the box is ticked
- Protein: Protein content varies greatly between milks. The higher the protein, generally, the better. Protein in milk will help with satiety. The variety of milks range from no protein to ~12g protein per serve.
- Fat: A little bit of fat will help make the milk creamier and more palatable but extra, unnecessary fat just adds on the calories. Aim for a lower-fat milk or about 4g per serving.
- Calories: The calories vary greatly among the different milks and are mostly determined on the amount of sugar and fat within the milk. Aim for under 120kcal per serve to keep the calories controlled when watching your weight.
If you are watching your weight – the best milk options are:
- Skim or low-fat cow milk
Skim milk has the same nutrients as full cream milk with all of the fat removed. Skim milk has 83kcal per serve while low fat milk is around 120kcal per serve.
- Low fat soy milk
Good choice if: you are lactose intolerant, have a milk allergy or choose to be plant-based
Soy milk is the closest milk nutritionally to its dairy equivalent. The calories are much the same and, in most cases, is fortified with calcium. Out of all the plant-based milks, soy milk has the most protein
- Almond milk
Good choice if: you are lactose intolerant, have a milk allergy, choose to be plant-based and/or intolerant of soymilk
Almond milk is the lowest in calories out of all the available milk options. Some varieties are quite creamy and can make a good latte. Ensure that the almond milk you are using is fortified with calcium. Almond milk is a poor source of protein.
- Oat milk
Good choice if: you are lactose intolerant, have a milk allergy, choose to be plant-based and/or have high cholesterol
Oat milk is a little higher in sugar but contains betaglucan which can help keep cholesterol low. It also froths up well for coffee and had quite a creamy texture.