There’s a whole new world to milk.  The USDA recommendations of three cups of dairy per day remain, but suddenly the breed of cow making your milk matters and milk alternatives (almond, rice and coconut milk) are on the shelves.  Confused on what’s right for you? Here’s the milk breakdown.


Cow Milk

Bottom line, cow milk gives you a lot of bang for your nutrition buck.  It’s high in calcium, potassium and protein, regardless if the milk is whole, 1% or skim, which helps overall health – especially your bones and teeth!


To help you choose, there are new questions to ask.  One emerging element in the milk equation: What color is your cow?

  • Black and white cows (Holsteins) produce milk with an A1 protein that (according to some), 1 in 4 people can’t digest, resulting in allergies and lactose intolerance;
  • Jersey (brown cows) and Guernsey (brown and white cows) produce milk with an A2 protein, which may be easier to digest


Milk labels are now referencing specific cow breeds on their packaging.  New research continues to investigate the difference between A1 and A2 milk consumption.  In the meantime, if you need non-dairy for personal reasons, explore:

Almond Milk
This is the top seller in the non-dairy world, made from ground almonds mixed with water and sweetener. It’s high in calcium and vitamin D but lacks protein and B vitamins compared to cow’s milk.  Key Points: Check for high sugar content, as some brands add sugar. People with nut allergies cannot consume almond milk, period.

Soy Milk
The best source of protein of all the non-dairy alternatives, soy milk is made with soaked ground soybeans and water.  It’s high in calcium and vitamins.  Key Points: Soy has high levels of isoflavones, which mimic estrogen and raise concern about soy and breast cancer risk. Conversely, other studies and evolving research suggest soy can be a healthy component of a balanced diet.

Rice Milk
This milk is made from ground rice and is extremely low in fat and calories, but it’s also low in protein, too. Key Points: Rice milk often contains added sugar and vanilla to mimic the taste of cow’s milk, so watch for sugar content.

Coconut Milk Beverages (drinkable carton-based, not canned coconut milk)
A growing number of people are reaching for coconut milk beverages, rich and creamy milk made from the inner meat and juices of the coconut. Key Points: It’s higher in additives and saturated fat compared to other milks.

Take time to choose the right milk for you, including options for unsweetened, organic and non-GMO products, which are widely available today versus 5-10 years ago when our choices were far more limited.  What are your nutrition needs?  Getting enough calcium is key to bone health for children and adults, so check the labels for the amounts in your milk of choice. With so many choices and benefits, it shouldn’t be hard to make sure you’ve… got milk.

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