It seems you can just about ‘mylk’ anything these days, from hemp and nuts to oats and rice. But does it really make a difference which dairy alternative you drink and which brand you pick up off the shelf?
welltodo London’s resident Nutritionist, Zoe Stirling, spells out 8 different milk options – explaining what to look out for, what to have with your milk, and our absolute must-try products available in London right now.
Possibly the milk of the moment – everyone seems to be having it! You can buy almond milk fresh, or long-life from the supermarket. Almonds are a great source of minerals including zinc, magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamin E, which make them beneficial for a healthy heart and circulation, as well as the brain and skin health too. Remember however, that nuts are high in fats and although incorporating almond milk into your diet is great, too much is also not a good thing. Have it sparingly!
What to look out for: Remember that almonds are naturally sweet and therefore check labels for additional sweeteners like agave as these can be very high in sugar (just in a different form).
Best had: With bircher muesli or homemade granola.
You must try: Alt-MILK (brand new and now available in Fortnum & Mason) contains five times the amounts of almonds in every bottle compared to shop bought varieties and is freshly made!
or… CPRESS Almond Milk – also freshly made daily using organic almonds. Can be bought sweetened with a little date syrup or au naturel without any sweet enhancers!
Another nut-based milk that is also becoming incredibly popular in nutrition circles. Cashews are an excellent source of minerals, wonderful for bone health and contain healthy fats that support cardiovascular health. A little trickier to find as it is not yet available in the supermarket, but it’s super easy to make your own version at home – see our recipe!
What to look out for: Opt for Organic cashews. Due to the natural oils, non-organic versions can accumulate pesticides and chemicals.
Best had: In smoothies or just on its own tastes delicious too!
You must try: Making your own! See our recipe.
Hazelnut milk isn’t readily available on the market either, however you can buy it from select health foods stores like Whole Foods and Planet Organic. It is deliciously creamy and naturally high in antioxidants. Hazelnuts are also a good source of folate and biotin, which promote healthy skin and hair.
What to look out for: Boiling homemade Hazelnut milk tends to make it curdle so avoid heating to high temperatures.
Best had: With cacao and dates as a healthy hot chocolate!
You must try: Tanya’s Café in Chelsea, which does a Hazelnut Milk called ‘My Sweet Surrender’ – totally delicious!
Hemp is a seed and is packed full of goodness! It contains the perfect balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and is also a complete protein making it a great all round food to boost brain function and heart health. It’s also considered a natural anti-inflammatory. As it’s a complete protein, it’s fantastic to incorporate into any training programme, a must-have for any fitness junkie!
What to look out for: An acquired taste that isn’t to everyone’s liking!
Best had: In post train smoothies or freeze with fruit for a non-dairy ice cream!
You must try: Good Hemp – available in some supermarkets and from Ocado.
Oat milk is becoming a popular nut-free and dairy-free milk alternative. Oat milk is made from soaked oat groats and has a smooth, creamy taste. Oats are thought to contain a natural sedative that has been used in traditional remedy to help anxiety and insomnia.
What to look out for: Anyone who has a serious gluten intolerance or is a coeliac may not be able to have oat milk or oats unless as a gluten-free version (in milk form this isn’t readily available).
Best had: With porridge or to make creamy dairy-free sauces.
You must try: Although not readily available on the market fresh, Rude Health do an organic version which can be purchased online, in certain health food stores and on Ocado.
Coconut milk is another staple to hit our fridges in recent years. Coconut milk is obtained primarily by extracting the juice from the white kernel, rich in beneficial fats. The medium chain triglycerides found in coconuts have been shown to promote healthy cholesterol, rather than the bad kind. Coconut is also a great natural anti-microbial and therefore great to give the immune system a boost.
What to look out for: Avoid canned coconut milk or UHT cream with additives, gums and emulsifiers.
Best had: Used for baking as a dairy-free alternative and lovely in cereals/home-made granolas.
You must try: Rebel Kitchen’s range of flavoured coconut Mylks – amazing!
or… CPRESS Organic Coco Milk – a mix of coconut water and coconut meat, which is simply heavenly!
Soya milk is still one of the most popular dairy free alternatives to cow’s milk. It is made from soaked soya beans blended with water. Soya milk is thought to contain a number of essential nutrients and be beneficial for cardiovascular health, particularly due to its low saturated fat content in comparison to Cow’s milk.
What to look out for: Avoid soy milk made from Genetically Modified soya beans; if it is organic then it will also be GMO free.
Best had: Still a favourite in coffees as a dairy free substitute, however, always check which soya milk is being used in your take-away coffee!
You must try: granoVita from Planet Organic – it’s both organic and unsweetened.
Rice Milk has a more water-like consistency should you not enjoy thicker and creamier tasting products. Rice milk is naturally high in B vitamins essential for metabolism, circulation and nerve function. However, it is lower in protein and calcium compared to other milks in the market.
What to look out for: It’s naturally higher in carbohydrates and most versions are sweetened so it may not suitable for diabetics or anyone with blood sugar balance issues.
Best had: In smoothies or to make chia desserts.
You must try: Rude Health Organic Brown Rice Drink from Planet Organic or Ocado. You can also find it in some supermarkets.