How Does Dairy Milk Compare to Plant-Based Milk Alternatives?
Have you ever felt lost in the dairy section of your grocery store? With so many options available, it can feel overwhelming. Knowing the nutritional differences between real, authentic dairy milk and plant-based milk alternatives can help you make an informed decision for you and your family.
Dairy milk and non-dairy alternatives are not nutritional equivalents. All Dairy milk consists of just three simple ingredients (milk, vitamin A and vitamin D) is minimally processed and farm fresh. Non-dairy alternatives often have more than 10 added ingredients including sugar, salt, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and gums. The carbohydrates in real dairy milk come from natural lactose, not added sugar, regardless of the milk’s fat content. All cow’s milk contains the same nutritional package whether it’s whole milk (3.5% fat), 2%, 1%, skim, lactose free, flavored or organic.
A great source of nine naturally occurring essential vitamins and nutrients, dairy milk contains calcium, high quality essential protein, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Milk alternatives like oat milk and almond milk are often fortified with nutrients to mimic dairy milk’s natural nutritional profile. Dairy milk will always contain the same nutrient profile regardless of the brand or location thanks to milk’s federal standard of identity. Non-dairy alternatives’ nutritional profiles vary between brands, making it essential that you read the list of ingredients to know what you’re really drinking.
Ounce for ounce, real dairy milk is both nutritious and affordable. At less than $1 per day, 3 servings of real dairy milk provides an irreplaceable package of nutrients and is an inexpensive way to get 3 of the 4 nutrients of concern (vitamin D, calcium, and potassium) according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
To get the same amount of calcium you get in one 8 ounce glass of real dairy milk you would have to eat 8 cups of spinach, almost 5 cups of red beans or 2 ¼ cups of broccoli. Real dairy milk is also an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin B for energy, vitamin A for a healthy immune system, and vitamin D for bone health. Real dairy milk is also a great source of high-quality proteins that helps build healthy muscles, hair, bones, and teeth. Most plant-based milks do not naturally contain protein.
Real dairy milk is nutrient rich, affordable, and highly versatile. It adds dimension, accentuates flavor and serves as a good base for many recipes. It also pairs well with most snacks and meals! Try your hand at one of these dairy-rich recipes below.