Peanut, rice, almond, oat or cow milk: This study proves which milk is actually the healthiest
Got oat milk?
Milking an oat might sound strange, but it turns out oats actually yield a naturally sweet and popular dairy alternative that Americans are drinking right up. Indeed, since June 2017, oat milk sales have increased 425%, according to data released this week by point-of-sale technology company Square — surpassing coconut, hemp, macadamia nut and pea milks. And Mike Messersmith, general manager of popular oat milk purveyor Oatly, notes that while last year they were in just “a few hundred coffee shops and hadn’t sold a single unit in retail, now we’re in over 2,000 coffee shops and 1,000 grocery stores around the country.”
Oat milk isn’t the only milk alternative that’s raising eyebrows: Peanut milk made waves earlier this year when Elmhurst Plant-Based Milks introduced “Milked Peanuts,” the latest addition to its line of grain, nut and seed milks. This milk is made of crushed-up peanuts made with filtered water, cane sugar for sweetness, salt and natural flavors. Other milk alternatives are now made from almonds, peas, hemp, pecan, quinoa, hazelnut, flax and cashews.
The thirst for these types of milks is on the rise. According to Mintel, non-dairy milk sales in the United States have increased 61% since 2012, reaching over $2.1 billion in 2017. That’s thanks, in part, to an increase in the number of vegans and those conscious of antibiotics and growth hormones often found in cow’s milk. The trend is global: The introduction of oat, hemp, pecan, quinoa, hazelnut and flax milks are steering the global alternative milk industry towards sales of $10.9 billion by 2019, according to the Global Market for Milk Alternatives.
As more exotic non-dairy milks grow in popularly, people are drinking less soy milk. According to Fortune, soy milk sales have fallen 57% from their peak of $1.2 billion in 2008 — but a new study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology conducted at McGill University suggests it’s actually one of the most nutritious milk alternatives, second only to cow’s milk.
“Soy milk gets a bad rap due to outdated and disproven claims about soy and various health conditions. What we now know, indisputably, is that soy is not only not harmful to human health, but likely beneficial for preventing and treating chronic diseases such as breast and prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Whitney English Tabaie says,
The study compares the nutritional values of the four most commonly consumed types of milk beverages — almond, coconut, rice and soy — with that of cow’s milk. The findings reveal that soy is not only rich in protein but also offers isoflavones, which are anti-carcinogenic phytochemicals.
“Soy milk contains a wonderful macronutrient profile. One cup has about 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of unsaturated fat,” says English Tabaie. And, she feels so strongly about myth-busting the negative association with soy that she’s produced a three-part video series debunking the common claims that soy causes cancer, fertility issues, increased acne and hypothyroidism.
For Michelle Silva, drinking soy milk has made her the target of eye rolls when she orders a drink with soy in it. “I did some research and came to the conclusion that soy has been around for thousands of years, and perhaps it’s not the plant itself that is the problem—it’s the processing and modification that makes it questionable. I drink organic, unsweetened, non-GMO soy milk in my coffee every day and I love its creamy texture,” says Silva.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved