You’re probably looking for an alternative to dairy milk if you’re lactose intolerant. Two of the most talked about alternatives are almond milk and coconut milk, and you might have come across people debating which one is better.
The Case for Almond Milk
Many people prefer almond milk to any dairy substitute. Taste is the major factor. They say it’s smooth and it tastes good. Almond milk is not a good source of protein though. It may have nutrients, like calcium and some vitamins, but these not inherent to almond milk and are only added to it during production. Some manufacturers add lecithin and thickening agents to their almond milk products to improve texture and consistency.
Almond milk is, of course, made of ground and toasted almonds. One of the best things about this dairy milk substitute is the low calories it packs. A cup contains only about 30 calories. Compare that with conventional milk, which more or less has 150 calories per cup. Plus most of the calories from almond milk comes from good fats.
Just like conventional milk, almond milk is easy to prepare. Blend it with water, hot or cold, and drink. Enjoy your low calorie drink. Those are some of its benefits.
What About Coconut Milk?
The coconut milk tastes, well, like coconut. It is a great choice nutrition-wise. Coconut is renowned for its medium-chain triglycerides and lauric acid, which the body easily burns. MCTs have many health benefits. If you want the low-calorie version, just opt for the unsweetened coconut milk. Like almond milk, it’s also low in protein and calcium. So it’s not your alternative to dairy milk if you’re looking to add more protein and calcium into your diet.
Another gripe about coconut milk is that manufacturers have to add artificial flavors and thickeners to get that natural milk consistency and texture. That means you get more stuff in your drink than necessary.
You can make your own version that is devoid of unnecessary additives by blending a cup of dried coconut flakes in two cups of boiling water. Strain afterwards. Take note it’s still low in protein and calcium. And those are some of its benefits.
So which is better?
Before you think about buying dairy milk substitutes, consider the processing of these products. They are most likely over-processed with many unneeded additives–sugars, preservatives, and texture enhancers. Of course, the purpose is to make their shelf lives longer and mimic the consistency of natural milk.
However, manufacturers have also fortified milk products with vitamins and minerals, so you get more for every calorie of the product. Nevertheless, the substitutes still pale in comparison to dairy milk when it comes to protein and calcium.
Eventually, the battle becomes somewhat a stalemate. Neither almond milk nor coconut milk is actually better than the other. You get two contenders whose qualities are not up to par with the conventional. If you’re not lactose intolerant and if you don’t have problems drinking regular milk, continue doing so. If you’re lactose intolerant, just consider other sources of calcium, like kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, which are excellent sources of this mineral. You can always get your protein from lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and legumes.