The Milk Alternatives
Once upon a time the only choice was cows milk but thankfully the market has expanded and with such a wide range of alternative sources and brands, the question is which milk??
It is important to remember that these drinks are not "milk", they are not a "whole food" , they are a food product; made up by combining ingredients and processing them. The other thing to be aware of with many alternative milks is the added sunflower oil. Most seed oils contain high levels of omega-6 poly unsaturated fats, which quickly oxidise in the body creating free radicals which cause cellular damage. From a food production perspective, the extraction of oil from seeds that are most commonly added to food products often involves multiple chemical processes including solvent extraction, bleaching and deodorising.
The best option is to make our own alternative milks but as most of us are time poor, I still believe ready-made alternative milk drinks are great to have as dairy free options, as long as you are choosing the healthy selections and drink them in moderation.
As with everything in this life, I believe what is right varies from person to person and nothing is a perfect fit for everyone, for every occasion. However there are some obvious winners in this space that I want to explore. When talking to people as a Naturopath, my intent is to help them make the best choice possible that they are willing to consume, whether it is cows, soy, rice or nut milk. Below are some comparisons of a few alternative milks on the Australian market, to get an idea what is in them and why I prefer the options I do.
Soy milk has a base of soy beans ( in most of the milks..). This makes the protein content high. The down side to drinking too much soy milk, is the studies that show that consumption of unfermented soy products can have an adverse effect on our hormonal system. They contain phytoestrogens, that mimic oestrogen and can bind to receptors in the body and this can alter our reproductive and thyroid feed back systems. Gone are the days of my much-needed soy lattes, that I releyed on when my babies had sleepless nights. I defiantly would no longer be having a whole cup of heated soy milk and personally have actually stopped using it in my house for the mean time.
- Filtered water, organic soybeans, tapioca syrup, jobs tear ( a select type of barley), sea salt, calcium carbonate.
- MY VIEW No added oils or sugar or flavours. Organic. Whole soybeans. My pick.
SANITERIUM SOGOOD SOYMILK
- Filtered water, soy protein ( this is made from the isolate not a whole bean), corn maltodextrin, sunflower oil, canola oil, cane sugar, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, acidity regulators 332, 450, antioxidant ascorbic acid, Vitamin A, B12, D2, B2,B1, natural flavor.
- MY VIEW Not organic, not whole beans, added oils, sugar, flavours (don't be fooled by "natural" , it is still a chemical compound but is derived from a plant or animal compound), numbers scream a warning to me, I want whole foods not numbers of chemicals. Avoid
VITASOY SOY MILK ORIGINAL
- Filtered water, organic soybeans, pearl barley, barley malt, raw sugar, sunflower oil, mineral calcium phosphate, natural flavouring, sea salt, kombi, Vitamins B2, B6, B12, Thiamin, Vitamin A
- MY VIEW. Added sugar and oil and again the flavours. Avoid
AUSTRALIANS OWN ORGANIC SOY MILK
- Filtered water, milled whole organic soybeans, organic sunflower oil. salt, sodium bicarbonate, vegetable gum
- MY VIEW Organic but added oil and vegetable gums. Prefer another option.
PURE HARVEST ORGANIC NATURE SOY MILK
- Filtered water, organic soybeans, organic rice syrup, organic sunflower oil, pinch of salt
- MY VIEW Organic and no flavouring but does have the added oil. Choose their alternative below.
PURE HARVEST ORGANIC NATURE SOY LITE
- Filtered water, organic soybeans, organic rice syrup, seaweed, pinch of salt
- MY VIEW Organic, no oils or flavors added. My other pick
Rice milk tastes sweet and my children love it in their porridge in the mornings! Rice is a non allergenic food and can be a great option when reacting to soy or cows milk. It is high carbohydrate content and so when avoiding sugars in detoxes or autoimmune diets, it is best to choose another option.
AUSTRALIANS OWN ORGANIC RICE MILK
- Filtered water, organic rice flour, organic sunflower oil, aqua min (organic calcium), salt
SANITARIUM SO GOOD RICE MILK
- Filtered water, brown rice, sugar, sunflower oil, calcium, salt, vegetable gum xanthan, natural flavor
- MY VIEW Not organic and added sugar and flavour. Avoid
MACRO ORGANIC RICE MILK
- Filtered water, organic brown rice, organic sunflower oil, organic calcium, salt
- MY VIEW Organic, no added sugar or flavour. Good choice. It is owned by Woolworths so know you are supporting a large corporation and some prefer not to.
PURE HARVEST AUSSIE DREAM
- Filtered water, organic brown rice, organic sunflower oil, pinch of sea salt
- MY VIEW Organic, no added sugar or flavor. My pick
VITASOY RICE MILK
- Filtered water, whole brown rice, sunflower oil, calcium phosphate, sea salt.
- MY VIEW Prefer the organic options
Almond milks are my favourite if I ever use milks in my own diet, which is rare. They especially work well in smoothies. The issue is with the added seed oils as above.
AUSTRALIAS OWN ORGANIC ALMOND MILK
- Filtered Australian Water, Organic Almonds (3%), Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Sunflower Oil, Salt.
- MY VIEW. I prefer not to use Agave Syrup and as there is another option with higher almond content, I prefer that. However this is organic and has minimum ingredients.
PURE HARVEST ORGANIC ALMOND MILK
- filtered water, organic almonds( 11%), organic rice syrup, organic sunflower oil and a pinch of sea salt.
- MY VIEW My prefered option as organic, higher almond content, no flavours added. There is still oil in it though.
SANITARIUM SO GOOD ALMOND MILK
- Filtered water, cane sugar, almonds (2.5%), mineral salts (tricalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), natural flavours, emulsifier (lecithin), salt, vegetable gum (carrageenan).
- MY VIEW By now you may realise with the added sugars, flavors and additives its a no go for me.
SANITARIUM SO GOOD ALMOND MILK UNSWEETENED
- Filtered Water, Almonds (2.5%), Mineral Salts (Tricalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Natural Flavours, Emulsifier (Lecithin), Salt, Vegetable Gum (Carrageenan).
- MY VIEW Still has the added flavours and isn't organic.
PACIFIC NATURAL FOODS ORGANIC ALMOND ORIGINAL
- Filtered Water, Organic Almonds ,Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, (B2), Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2
- MY VIEW. My other pick. Organic, no added flavours or oil. It is sweetened by Cane juice though.
My husband and I are keen to start making our own almond milk now that our children are a little older and we have a little more time. I will share how that goes!