Non-dairy milk alternatives - which is the healthiest?

We take a look at the alternatives to milk now available in supermarkets, and discover what all the fuss is about.

Increasingly people are becoming more aware of the effects dairy has on their gut, while some are lactose intolerant, and others choose not to consume dairy for ethical and environmental reasons.

[Read more: What is a plant-based diet?]

But if cow’s milk isn’t for you, what are the alternatives, and are they as good for you? We find out…

Soy milk

What is it? Soya beans are soaked, squished and cooked until their liquid can be extracted.
Pros: High in protein and nutrients – including omega-3, soy milk will leave you feeling fuller for longer than most milk alternatives.
Cons: It can taste beany and feel chalky if it’s not a high quality version. Excessive soy consumption has been found to affect fertility and testosterone levels, and is linked to deforestation.

Rice milk

What is it? Cooked rice and water are mixed with an enzyme that turns the starches in the rice into sugars, making it sweet.
Pros: Rice milk is hypoallergenic, so great if you’re sensitive to certain foods, and will give you a carby hit.
Cons: There have been warnings that rice milk can contain high levels of arsenic, which can affect heart health. 

[Read more: Skimmed milk vs full fat milk – which is healthier and will help you lose weight?]

Hemp milk

What is it? Hemp seeds are ground and blended with water.
Pros: Hemp milk contains iron (great for energy levels and those with anaemia) and omega 3 fatty acids, and is a good source of protein.
Cons: Arguably none, it’s one of the best alternatives out there.

Almond milk

What is it? Skinned almonds are ground down, mixed with water and filtered until smooth.
Pros: It’s high in Vitamin E and low in saturated fat, and retains all the goodness of almonds in their raw form.
Cons: It can be high in sugar, depending on the manufacturer.

Coconut milk

What is it? Thinner than the stuff you put in Thai green curry, this is a mix of water and the liquid squeezed from pulped coconut flesh.
Pros: It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and is super tasty and is widely considered a super food.
Cons: It’s also high in saturated fat, which isn’t good for your heart, sugar (weight gain) and fibre, which can lead to gut trouble.

[Read more: 5 different uses for breast milk that you might not realise are a thing]

Cashew milk

What is it? Cashew nuts are soaked and then blended with filtered water until creamy, often sweetened and fortified with vitamins.
Pros: The vitamin factor is great…
Cons: But cashew milk products are often watered down. You might be better off having a glass of water and a handful of whole, raw cashews instead.

Flax milk

What is it? Much like hemp milk, flax seeds are blended with water and strained until smooth.
Pros: Flax milk is good if you want to lower your cholesterol, and it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also been linked with helping prostate cancer sufferers.
Cons: It tastes like flax seeds…

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