Your Cooking Companion

Posted in Food
September 6, 2019

Got Milk(s)? Here’s My Nutritional Comparison Chart

I’ve been a cow’s milk fan my whole life, drinking it with all three meals a day as a kid and into adulthood.

The whole “drink 8 glasses of water a day” thing came to light when I was in my 30s, and I virtuously switched to water, except for breakfast, where I still needed milk for my cereal or to go with my eggs. (And for with cookies, brownies, etc., of course.)

Recently, I started thinking about trimming the number of calories, fat, and carbohydrates I consume every day, and milk came under the microscope. I was astounded by the difference in calories between 2% (or even 1%) cow’s milk (Skim milk isn’t in my book of real milk) in comparison to unsweetened Almond milk, which has almost no calories at all! I promptly made the switch and now feel gleeful about that tiny calorie number every time I eat cereal. The trade off, unfortunately, turns out to be in nutrition.

Then…what’s all this talk about oat milk?? OAT milk? Like, milk made from dry oats somehow?? Lo and behold, a coupon for a free carton of Planet Oat milk showed up in an email from my local grocer, so I was all over that experiment. Holy smoke. I LOVE the stuff. I can’t get enough of it. It’s the only milk I just drink, all by itself, because I can’t resist a small glass every now and then. It’s almost as though my body has been needing that for a long time.

Then there are, of course, the more traditional non-dairy milks: Soy, Rice, Coconut. And some less traditional milk ideas: Hemp, Pea, Cashew, etc.

All of these choices, now that my horizons have broadened past cows, got me to wondering about how they compare to each other nutritionally. I was interested in not just calories, but protein, carbs, fat, iron, and calcium. Information I found online was radically inconsistent and I couldn’t find any site that had all the pieces I really wanted to see. 

SO…

Below is a comparison table I built, based on my research of the most commonly consumed types of unsweetened milk. It compares not only nutrition, but also cost, which, let’s face it, has to be factored in. Because information does vary a lot, and because different brands and package types (refrigerated, shelf-stable aseptic) are also different, my table is most useful in giving a general sense of what types of milk are higher or lower than others. I picked some representative brands, several right off my refrigerator shelf.

If non-dairy milk is a new thing for you, really read the ingredients before you buy. Some refrigerated almond milk, for instance, can have a LOT of added sugar.

Also, keep in mind that Calcium is important for babies, children, and people (especially women) over 50. To help with those estimates, I’m also including a table that shows calcium needs at various ages. As you look at the “percent of daily value” for calcium on each product, keep in mind that the FDA regards 1,000 mg of calcium as 100% of your daily need.

P.S. I used the Ripple Original Pea milk in my last Chicken Pot Pie, and it was wonderful! Made a rich and creamy filling that stayed in the pie instead of leaking out.

Updated 5/29/21

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