March 2021

Different Types of Milk: Which One Is the Best?

There are different types of milk- some are plant based while others come from animals- and each has their own nutritional benefits. Knowing the right type of milk is important to properly plan for your weight loss journey.

But which milk should you drink and why?

Full Cream Milk

What it is: Full cream milk or full-fat milk is cow’s milk that contains on average 3.8% fat.

How it is made: Full cream milk comes from Daisy’s udders, then is homogenised and pasteurised.

Health perk:Full cream milk is high in calcium and provides a unique package of essential nutrients including: vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, carbohydrate and protein.

Over the last five years nutrition science has evolved and research is now showing that not all saturated fats are equal.

In fact milk drinkers, including regular fat drinkers, have a slightly lower risk of heart disease, hypertension and bowel cancer.

Health pitfall:After surgery, some patients are considered lactose Intolerant, so choose a lactose free milk, which still offers a range of essential nutrients andhealthy protein.
A2 milk should be considered for those with Autoimmune issues, or family history.

Low fat dairy products generally have slightly higher lactose contentdue to the addition of milk solids, so always check the label. Full fat will satisfy you for longer.
Organic and grass fed milks have less residue from farming, and are higher in Omega 3 fats than other forms.

Skim Milk

What it is:Skim milk is a reduced fat cow’s milk that must contain less than 0.15% fat.
Point of difference: Skim milk is the lowest fat and saturated fat milk option.

How it is made:The fat is skimmed off the milk in the production process. The milk fat carries Vitamins A and D, therefore Vitamin A and D are added to replace the vitamins that were reduced when the fat was removed.

Health perk:Skim milk has the lowest fat and saturated fat content of all cow’s milk.
Lower-fat milks are generally higher in calcium and protein than regular milk.

Best use:As the flavour of skim milk is not as distinctive as full cream milk it can be used in any dish that requires cow’s milk. It is a great addition to smoothies and coffee as the taste isn’t overpowering; you’ll hardly notice the difference from cow’s milk.

Full cream 3.8% FAT

Low fat 1.5% FAT

Skim Milk 0.5% FAT

Soy Milk

What it is: Soy milk is made from soybeans. It contains a similar proportion of protein as cow’s milk: around 3.5% protein, 2% fat and 2.9% carbohydrate.

Point of difference: Soy milk is lactose free and a good substitute for cow’s milk if fortified with calcium.

How it is made: Soy Milk is made by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water.

Health perk: Suitable alternative for those who cannot tolerate cow’s milk or children who cannot tolerate breast milk.

Health pitfall: Soy milk is not suitable for people with soy allergies and coeliacs should always check the label before consuming.

Best use: Soy milk has an almost nutty flavour so it is a great additional to breakfast cereals and muesli.

But, if you are ordering it in your coffee, be warned that it can congeal, forming a lumpy consistency. Don’t yell at your barista!

Almond Milk

What it is:Almond milk is made from ground almonds. It has a nutty taste (go figure)!

Point of difference:Almond milk is low in fat, saturated fat and calories. It is suitable for those who are lactose intolerant and vegans.

How it is made:Almond milk is made when roasted almonds are ground to make almond butter and then mixed with water. In some cases vitamins are added and the milk is fortified with calcium, stabilisers and, sweetener.

Watch the sugar content and protein component, as these milks can be quite high in sugar and very light on NUTS!

Health perk:Almond Milk is quite low in fat due to only 3% of the milk being almonds.
It also has a good calcium content, which is something good to look out for when you are exploring dairy alternative. It’s often good to investigate making it yourself, so you know what’s going in.

Health pitfall:The low protein content in Almond Milk leaves it not suitable as a replacement to cow’s milk.

One serve of full cream milk has 8 g of protein, with almond milk only having 1 gram, so this milk is not recommended as a cow’s milk replacement. Almond milk is obviously not suitable for people with nut allergies.

Best use:Try almond milk in smoothies, on your breakfast cereal or muesli. It also provides a great flavour in coffee and herbal teas like chai and rooibos.

Rice Milk

What it is: Rice milk is made from white or brown rice.

Point of difference: Non-reactive on the stomach so it will not affect those who are lactose intolerant. It is also vegan friendly and gluten free.

How it is made: White or brown rice is cooked and ground with water.

Health perk: Rice milk is low in fat and saturated fats.

Health pitfall: Rice milk can be high in carbohydrates and sugar content due to the high glycaemic index. Due to its low protein and calcium content, rice milk is not appropriate for children.

Best use: Avoid using it with artificially sweetened protein powders, as it can get sickly sweet (but it is a great addition to your morning smoothie).

And there you have it, with so many options, there’s no need to have a cow if you don’t like milk. There are plenty of choices to ensure your next coffee, smoothie or breakfast cereal doesn’t feel like an udder loser.

Jacqui Lewis

BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

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