Not that long ago, the only choices you had to make about milk were associated to its fat content: skim, 1%, 2%, or whole. But now when you enter the grocery store, you see an assortment of milk substitutes made from nuts, seeds, and beans that also guarantee to do your body good. So whether you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just looking for a some dietary variety, these 6 cow’s milk substitutes are a good place to start!

#1 Almond Milk: Almond Milk is a dairy free liquid that is made from skinned almonds and ground finely with water and then filtered to remove solids. It’s free of saturated fat and good for calorie-conscious folks for its low energy count (30–60 calories per cup for unsweetened or original). It’s also typically high in vitamin E, both from what’s naturally present in almonds as well as what’s added by manufacturers. It acts as an antioxidant that helps lessen oxidative damage in the body, higher intakes of vitamin E can also help refine brain function and muscle recovery for those who train hard.

#2 Soy Milk: Soy Milk is a made by soaking, crushing, and cooking soybeans, and then extracting the liquid. Out of every nondairy substitute, soy milk is predominant in protein. Every cup has almost the same amount of protein as regular cow’s milk, about 6–8 grams per cup. This can make soy milk more filling than others with notably less protein. Even though soy protein does not promote the building of muscle as effectively as whey (milk) does, mostly because of the lower levels of the anabolic amino acid leucine, it can still help you meet overall protein needs for the elevation of lean body mass. In addition, it is also a good source of potassium, which is needed for muscle function and keeping your blood pressure numbers from going over.

#3 Cashew Milk: Cashew Milk is strengthened with useful nutrients, such as: calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and zinc. Zinc is vital because it helps with thousands of different enzymatic responses in the human body, including those involved in testosterone production for men. However, there is still a huge debate about how well the body actually absorbs the vitamins and minerals added to dairy-free milks compared to what’s naturally present in foods such as the calcium found in genuine cow’s milk.

#4 Hemp Milk: Hemp Milk is made by blending hemp seeds with water which creates a drink with a unique earthy/nutty taste which takes some adjusting to. It contains high levels of omega-3 fats than other nondairy milks. While the omega-3 fats in fatty fish like salmon are stronger, plant-sourced omega-3 fats like those in hemp can also improve your health. This also makes hemp milk a great option for vegans looking for vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also great source of iron, which is not present in cow’s milk.

Iron is needed to keep your energy levels up and inhibit brain fog. In contrast to Soy Milk, hemp milk is never altered, and it’s a great option for those who are allergic to nuts, dairy, soy, or gluten.

#5 Coconut Milk: Coconut Milk is made by blending filtered water and the coconut liquid squeezed from grated coconuts. Now you have two choices when choosing your coconut milk, the full-fat canned version or the carton. Compared to the full-fat canned coconut milk, the carton version has about 365 fewer calories and 43 fewer grams of fat for each one-cup serving. Choosing the carton over the can is also a way to reduce your exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA).

In addition, the distinct medium-chain-fatty acids (MCFAs) found in coconuts are believed to also increase metabolism, but their effect on physical fat loss is still disputed.

#6 Rice Milk: Rice Milk is made by blending together cooked rice with water and then adding enzymes to convert starches to sugars. This is a safe option for those with food allergies to dairy, nuts, or soy. Just like the other nondairy substitutes, rice milk is strengthened with calcium and Vitamin D to assist in preserving strong bones. Tip: Before you open up the rice milk container, shake it up to redeliver any added vitamins and minerals.

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