Almond, Rice and Oat milk are relatively easy to make at home.
With only 2 grams of protein per 8 ounces, almond milk is not that impressive in the protein department—but almonds are one of the healthiest foods around. They’re rich in magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. Almond milk has a nice sweet, nutty flavor and a good consistency, which makes it good for drinking as well as a good dairy substitute in cooking.
A personal favorite: Hemp milk is new to the market and is made from seeds grown in Canada, where growing hemp is legal. It is a good source of omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorous, and is commonly fortified with other vitamins and minerals. One (very delicious) brand, Living Harvest, states that unlike soy protein, hemp protein doesn’t contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors, phytates, which can interfere with the proper assimilation of essential minerals, or oligosaccharides which cause flatulence and stomach distress.
Oat milk is gaining in popularity and availability. It is high in fiber, is cholesterol and lactose free, and contains vitamin E, folic acid, and other trace elements and minerals. Oats are also rich in phytochemicals, naturally occurring chemicals in plants that help fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It is said to be highly tolerated by people with multiple allergies—however it’s not good for people with gluten intolerance.
Rice milk is processed from brown rice and typically contains rice syrup, evaporated cane juice or another natural sweetener. It is usually fortified with calcium or vitamin D. It is generally very sweet, and pretty watery. The main drawback of rice milk is that it is mainly just a source of carbohydrates—it is a good dairy substitute for cooking, but shouldn’t be used as a replacement for nutrients.
There was a time when soy was considered nothing short of a miracle bean. But times have changed. The preponderance of GMO strains drifting into soy fields is alarming (it is estimated that 90 percent of soy is genetically modified), and people are increasingly acquiring quite serious allergies to soy. If you drink a lot of soy milk, you might want to read the arguments about possible health issues associated with soy. Dr. Kaayle Daniel, author of the book The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Health Food says: “Soy isoflavones–the plant estrogens in soy most often credited with cancer prevention–are listed as carcinogens in many toxicology textbooks. They have also been proven to be mutagenic, clastogenic and teratogenic.” Excessive soy intake has also been linked to an increased risk of thyroid disease, and some feel that soy’s phytoestrogens may attenuate testosterone levels in boys. The jury may still be out on soy, but the bottom line might just be that soy milk is significantly more processed than the other milk alternatives.