Almond Milk

Nut Milks Vs Cow’s Milk – Which is Better?

If you've been keeping up with the latest health trends, you've probably heard of nut milks. 

Everywhere you look, people are swapping out their usual cow's milk for almond, cashew, and even macadamia milk. But why are so many people making the switch? More importantly, are these alternative nut milks really better for you nutritionally than good old cow's milk?

Thinking of switching?

Before we get into it, if you're super keen to give nut milks or alternative milks a try, check out this video by registered Dietician Tracy Lockwood Beckerman.  Here she gives the full DL on all things alt mylk...

Nuts for nut milks...

Firstly, it's essential you understand that nut milks are not actual dairy products – we just wanted to clarify that as you’d be surprised by how many people believe them to be milk milk.

Rather, they’re made by blending nuts and water together to create a creamy liquid that looks like milk. This means they’re lactose-free and a fab alternative for people who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.  They also can make for a proper tasty milky coffee if you pick the right one.

Coconut milk makes flat whites taste like little caffeinated pieces of heaven – just sayin…

Great coffees aside, nut milks are also super rich in minerals, healthy fats, and fibre, so it’s no wonder many health and fitness folk prefer them to moo milk.

Nut milks, particularly almond milk, have become increasingly popular in recent years, with almond milk accounting for almost two-thirds of all plant-based milk sales.

But do they really offer any significant nutritional advantages over cow's milk?  Or are they just (as Mugatu would say) “so hawt right now?”

One benefit of nut milks is that they don’t contain any cholesterol, which is naturally present in animal-based products.

This is a good thing as cholesterol, a fat-like substance, can build up in your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.  So, by choosing a plant-based milk option like nut milk, you may help reduce your risk of heart disease in the future. 

Although if cholesterol and heart disease is something you’re genuinely concerned about, you’re best to speak with your doctor and take a look at your diet as a whole, simply swapping out moo milk for nut milk won’t cut it, I’m afraid.

Plus, plant-based milks are generally lower in calories than cow's milk. For example, one cup of almond milk contains only 30-60 calories, compared to 146 calories in whole cow's milk. This makes them a great option for those of you wishing to enjoy your milky coffees but stay in a calorie deficit.

Almond Milk
Towfiqu Barbhuiya​​

Cow’s milk is the OG – but is it the GOAT?

While there are some clear nutritional and dietary benefits to nut milk, it’s not a Usain Bolt style win for the nutty lot by any stretch.

You see, nut milks are lower in protein than cow's milk. Protein is essential for the growth and repair of all your tissues and muscles and helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after a meal.

Unfortunately, if you're relying on nut milk as your main source of protein, you may not be consuming enough to support your system.

 Calcium is another big nutritional hitter in favour of cow’s milk with one cup clocking in with about 300mg!  According to the National Institutes of Health:

Your body needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between your brain and every part of your body. Calcium also helps blood vessels move blood throughout your body and helps release hormones that affect many functions in your body. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.

National Institutes of Health

And one of the best sources is… cow’s milk!

Vitamin D is yet another nutrient naturally found in cow’s milk that’s vital for good health:

It helps your body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones. Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect you from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break. Your body needs vitamin D for other functions too. Your muscles need it to move, and your nerves need it to carry messages between your brain and your body. Your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

National Institutes of Health

These nutrients are naturally occurring in cow’s milk, but many brands will fortify their nut milks with additional vitamins and minerals in order to bridge the nutritional gap between the two milk worlds.

The question here is – would you rather get your minerals and vitamins from a natural or fortified source?

What about taste?

Another crucial factor to determine which milk is best is the taste.

Some people prefer the taste of nut milks to cow's milk, while others find them too sweet or nutty. You must remember that, like cow's milk, different nut milks have different flavours and consistencies.

Some nut milks, such as cashew milk, have a creamier texture, while almond milk has a subtle nutty flavour.

Plus, it's important to note that not all nut milks are created equal. Some brands add extra sugar or unhealthy fats to their products, which can negate the health benefits of nut milks.

So, it's crucial you read the label carefully and choose a brand that uses high-quality ingredients and doesn’t fill their milk up with gunk…

Final thoughts…

To be honest, there’s no straightforward answer to whether nut milks are better for you nutritionally than cow's milk.

While nut milks offer several health benefits and can be a suitable alternative for those who are lactose intolerant, their low protein content may be a concern for some individuals.

Ultimately, the milk you choose to consume will depend on your dietary preferences and health concerns. If you're looking for a lactose-free or plant-based option, nut milks are a great choice.

However, if you're seeking a protein-rich source of calcium, cow's milk may be the best option for you.

Whatever you decide, be sure to choose a high-quality product and enjoy it in moderation as part of a balanced diet. And remember, there's no one "perfect" milk – the key is to listen to your body and choose the option that works best for you.

Ashleigh Tosh

Ashleigh Tosh

Ashleigh - writer by day, reader by night, self-professed foodie at all times... A former broadcast journalist, she's been writing for the health & wellness industry for over 10 years and is passionate about all things food & fitness. When she's not clickety-clacking on the keyboard, you can find her in the gym, in the kitchen or up a Munro.


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