Everything You Will Ever Need to Know About Dairy-free Milk Alternatives

If you have decided to ditch the dairy in your diet, your body will thank you. Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, and the consumption of dairy products has been linked to everything from increased risk of ovarian and prostate cancers to ear infections and diabetes. Fortunately, plant-based milks provide a convenient and healthful alternative to cow's milk. And if you are currently making the transition to a dairy-free diet, you will find that going dairy-free has never been easier. Soy, almond, hemp, coconut, and rice milks, among others are taking over supermarket aisles and can replace dairy in everything from your morning cereal to baked goods and desserts! There are dozens of brands of plant-based milks and hundreds of options to choose from to meet everyone's individual tastes and nutritional needs.

Check out some top plant-based milk options below:

1. Almond Milk

Almond milk doesn't taste anything like dairy milk, offering its own unique light and nutty flavor. This yummy dairy-free beverage provides us with minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, as well as antioxidants selenium and vitamin E. Almond milk is versatile and can be used in baking, hot drinks, smoothies, as well as drunk alone. It is sometimes flavored with chocolate or vanilla. Read our guide to Almond milk to learn more about popular brands or make it yourself, you will be surprised to learn how easy it is! In fact, many recipes taste much better with almond milk than dairy milk, like these cinnamon rolls or this breakfast parfait with chia seeds. But our favorite is these Raw Raspberry and Banana-Peanut Truffles!

2. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is high in fiber, vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, C, and E, as well as various minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, sodium, and zinc. It also contains a high level of omega 3, 6 and 9 fats along with essential amino acids. The only downside to coconut milk is the high content of saturated fat, and because of the link between this and coronary heart disease, coconut milk is seen as a food that should be consumed in moderation. Coconut milk is high in fiber, however, which makes us feel fuller for longer, therefore helping to control consumption and weight. Don't forget to read our guide to coconut milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make coconut milk yourself. Ice-creams do great with coconut milk, try this Lavender Coconut Ice Cream or the Cherry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Pecans but the easiest one of all are these Raw Fruit Popsicles with Coconut Milk!

3. Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which has been proven to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids, all 10 essential amino acids, calcium, folic acid, riboflavin, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, as well as vitamins A, B12, D and E. Hemp milk is creamier and thicker than most other milk alternatives and has a delicious and original flavor that cannot be easily distinguished from dairy milk when mixed in beverages. Read our guide to hemp milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make hemp milk yourself! Green smoothies can get an extra kick of nutrition if you make them with this powerhouse milk, check out this easy guide to making great green smoothies.

4. Oat Milk

Oat milk is high in fiber and iron, as well as low in calories, fat and sugars. It can enhance the immune system, maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as protect against heart disease, strokes, and some cancers. In addition it provides important minerals including manganese, potassium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, B, and E. Oat milk is very versatile and can be used in baking, cooking, drunk plain, or added to cereal and hot beverages. Read our guide to oat milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make oat milk yourself. This Vegan Vegetable Tart uses oat milk!

5. Rice Milk

Rice Milk is a dairy-free grain milk made from (generally) brown rice, which for the most part remains unsweetened, although some rice milks are now sweetened with natural ingredients such as sugarcane. Rice milk is fortified with minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron, niacin, as well as vitamins A, B12 and D. It is also low in fat, making it a particularly good milk substitute for baking, cooking, and drinks. As with almond, coconut, hemp, and oat, rice milk is a great milk alternative for those who are allergic to soy, although not offering the same health benefits. Read our guide to rice milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make rice milk yourself! It should not come as a surprise that rice milk works wonders in desserts; try these delicious Spiked Sweet Potato Truffles, and if you are looking for something healthy and creative, try the Beet-root Chocolate Frosted Cupcake or the Yeasted Pumpkin Pancakes!

6. Soy Milk

Soy milk contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which aid blood pressure and cholesterol reduction, and helps protect against cardiovascular and neurological diseases. It is an excellent source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc, helping to control blood pressure, improve blood oxygenation, and protect against other diseases. There are an unbelievable number of soy milk brands on the market at the moment, all offering a huge array of soy milk products. Read our guide to soy milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make soy milk yourself! While you can swap soy milk for dairy milk in hundreds of recipes, our favorite way to use soy milk is in cupcakes, especially vegan ones -- here's a collection of our favorite vegan cupcakes that are made with soy milk!

There are a handful of other plant-based milks, including flax, hazelnut and quinoa, although these are a lot harder to obtain. Sometimes, however, it's possible to find them blended with other grains and nuts, such as almonds or rice. Good luck on your dairy-free adventures!

This post was originally published on One Green Planet.

Image Source: Vivianna Love/Flickr