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What you need to know about milk

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Milk is a staple part of our daily diet and more people than ever are reaching for alternatives like almond, soy or oat milk. They all have different things to offer so let’s take a look at the main players.

Historically, in the UK we’ve got most of our milk from dairy cows. An increase in people adopting a plant based diet and those suffering from allergies means we’re seeing more and more non-dairy milk alternatives on our supermarket shelves. They offer a different nutritional profile with varying benefits, so which to pick? Let’s take a look at a few.

Cow’s milk

Currently the most commonly consumed milk in the UK, this comes in 3 main varieties: whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed.

Benefits include:

  • Calcium for healthy bones
  • Protein for growth and repair
  • Iodine, important for healthy nerve and brain function, and healthy skin
  • Vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells and nerve function
  • Vitamin B2 to help release energy from carbohydrates and protein

Some people are allergic to dairy products and suffer issues such as irritable bowel and excess mucus. Others choose not to consume it for moral or ethical reasons. The good news is there’s plenty of alternatives.

Non-dairy alternatives

Soy milk

Fabulous for cooking and baking. It can be a great substitute to cow’s milk as it has the same consistency with regards to protein and fat.

Almond milk

Contains plenty of vitamins, magnesium, iron, protein and fibre. It’s naturally creamy and great on cereals.

Coconut milk

Rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, it’s great in coffee, curries and baked goods.

Rice milk

No saturated fat or cholesterol, rice milk is the least allergenic of milks. However, it has low protein and calcium and is unsuitable for diabetics due to the high starch content.

Oat milk

Made from oats which are healthy wholegrains. They’re a source of vitamin B, dietary fibre and have zero saturated fats. Use in drinks, cereals and cooking.

With so many options, both in the chilled and long life sections, find what works for you, your diet and your budget. Two key things to look for when choosing a non dairy alternative:

  • Check packaging to make sure it’s fortified with calcium. Aim for around 120mg per 100ml
  • Look for unsweetened versions to avoid additional sugar

Nut milk, plant milk, goats milk and even camel milk are readily available for consumers. Why not give an alternative a try?


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