Almond, oatmeal, soy, cow? Which milk is best for your health?

Which milk is better?

Nowadays, it is a wonderful opportunity to diversify your menu with the products you want. Dairy products are no exception. We can choose cow’s milk, goat’s milk and other animal’s milk products, as well as choose an alternative derived from plant products.

“One of the reasons I like herbal drinks is that they add variety to our menu, but no less important is their role for people who can’t or don’t want to eat dairy products,” says nutritionist Eva Kataja.

Whatever the reason for using herbal drinks in the menu, it would be valuable to understand the benefits and potential disadvantages of using them. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used herbal drinks so you can find the one that’s right for you.

What does cow’s milk provide?

In order to better understand the differences between herbal drinks, we should first look at the composition of cow’s milk, because most often we use herbal drinks instead of cow’s milk. As a nutritionist, I would like the food and drink we consume on a daily basis to be as valuable as possible in terms of nutrition.

In general, cow’s milk specialists do not perceive it as a drink, but as a food. And if we look at the nutritional value of milk, it is quite recognizable. A glass of milk could theoretically be a very good snack in terms of energy and nutrients.

1 cup whole cow’s milk (approximately 250 ml)

– 150 kcal

– 12 grams of carbohydrates

– 8 grams of fat

– 8 grams of protein


  • Widely available, available in almost all outlets.
  • Whole milk supplies the body with protein, fat, as well as vitamins and minerals.
  • If lactose is a problem, you can look for lactose-free cow’s milk (an enzyme that breaks down lactose).


  • High in calories and fat.
  • People have an intolerance to lactose in cows or an allergy to cow’s milk.
  • Ethical considerations when evaluating modern animal farms.

Various vegetable drinks

Honestly, I am delighted with the wide range of food choices available for people with allergies and food intolerances. Previously, only a soy drink was available at best, but now we can enjoy oatmeal, buckwheat, rice, almonds, hemp, coconut and various other drinks. They differ in taste, texture, appearance and nutrients. Ideally, you should find one that both tastes and supplies the body with the nutrients it needs.

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I offer to look at four herbal drinks.

1 glass of almond drink (250 ml)

– 30–60 kcal

– 1 gram of carbohydrates

– 3 grams of fat

– 1 gram of protein


  • Low in calories.
  • It is often enriched with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other vitamins.
  • Vegan product that does not contain lactose.


  • Not a valuable source of protein.
  • May contain carrageenan (E407), which may cause digestive problems in some people.
  • From the point of view of environmentally friendly cultivation, almond milk would not be the first choice, as the cultivation of almond trees requires a lot of water.

1 cup soy drink (250 ml)

80–100 kcal
4 grams of carbohydrates (if more sugar is present)
4 grams of fat
7 grams of protein


  • A good source of potassium and is often enriched with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and others.
  • It contains as much protein as cow’s milk, but has fewer calories than whole milk.
  • It is very low in saturated fat.


  • Soy is a common allergen in both adults and children.
  • Soy milk produced in the United States comes mainly from genetically modified soy, which is a concern for part of the public.

1 cup rice drink (250 ml)

120 kcal
22 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fat
Less than 1 gram of protein


  • The least allergic drink from milk alternatives.
  • It is enriched with calcium and vitamin D.
  • It is naturally sweeter than other herbal drinks.


  • Rice milk has the highest carbohydrate content, so it would not be recommended, for example, for diabetics.
  • It is not a good source of protein.
  • Not recommended for young children as there may be high levels of arsenic contamination.

1 glass of coconut drink (250 ml)

50 kcal
2 grams of carbohydrates
5 grams of fat
0 grams of protein


  • Coconut milk is a safe choice for almost all people who are allergic to nuts.
  • It is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
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  • Coconut milk is not a good source of protein.
  • Carrageenan (E407) is often added to it, which can cause unpleasant digestive problems in some people.

Debatable supplements – food additives are added to plant milk drinks

When buying herbal drinks, you will often find food additives – emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers, flavorings, acidity regulators, etc. Food additives are necessary to make the product more enjoyable in both taste and appearance. Its heat treatment and packaging, in turn, help to keep it longer outside the refrigerator. You will be able to take such a drink in the car even on a hot summer day, nothing will happen to it, which could not be said about cow’s milk. However, a cow’s milk pack will contain only milk without any food additives. An exception could be milk to which vitamin D has been added. However, thickeners and stabilizers are not present in cow’s milk.

Most people should not be afraid of food additives, because only a few people are sensitive to them. However, if you prefer the simplest possible products, read what is written on the label of the particular product and choose drinks that contain only grains or nuts, water and salt.

Are BIO drinks better?

The answer is ambiguous. No additional vitamins or minerals are added to organic plant-based drinks, in which case they are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk – in terms of vitamins and minerals, these drinks will be poorer.

I would like to use an organic oat drink, but I prefer the usual one, because it is supplemented with calcium and vitamin D, which is absolutely necessary for my body. Of course, we can take extra of these missing nutrients (and we should take extra vitamin D!), But for those who don’t get along well with supplements, it’s important that the foods they eat are nutritious.

However, growing organic products is more environmentally friendly and we do not take in additional pesticide residues.

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