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Food Fight: Milk vs. Milk

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plain milk cartons

Photo by Flickr user Cubist Castle

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

Do you remember when milk was just milk? These days there are many milk varieties fighting for your attention. Though each touts their own unique blend of health claims, it can be really hard to choose which one is the right one for you

To help you out, let's compare three popular milk choices: Cow's milk, soy milk, and almond milk.

Cow's Milk, 2%

2% (or low fat) cow's milk is one of the most common and affordable types of milk available. Each glass is a nutritional powerhouse: rich in vitamins D, K, and A, as well as calcium and protein. In part, these nutrients are what make milk and the entire dairy group important for overall health. Additionally, milk produced by grass-fed cows contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an important fatty acid which has been shown to play a role in weight management and to have anti-cancer properties.

Despite all of these healthy benefits, cow's milk isn't perfect. Many health authorities believe that pasteurizing cow's milk destroys potentially beneficial bacteria, protein, and enzymes that may help aid the body in digestion. Nevertheless, selling or serving raw milk can be potentially life-threatening and most health experts agree that the benefits of pasteurized milk far outweigh the possible negatives.

Nutrition Knock-Out Facts for 2% milk (1 cup):  122 calories, 4.8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 293 mg of of calcium, 342 mg potassium

 

Soy Milk

Soy milk is pretty comparable to cow's milk. Many individuals choose to incorporate this alternative into their day because of an allergy or intolerance to the lactose found in cow's milk. Others choose soy milk because they are vegetarian or simply because they like the different, somewhat thicker consistency of the beverage. Its nutritional breakdown is similar to that of reduced-fat cow's milk, except that it is much richer in isoflavones that bind estrogen receptors and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Which product will “win” this fight?  Keep reading to find out.

Nutrition Knock-Out Facts for Soy Milk (1 cup): 90 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 360 mg of calcium, 300 mg of potassium

 

Almond Milk

Unlike cow's milk and soy milk, almond milk isn't a great source of protein. In fact, its nutrition profile contrasts quite differently from the other two. Although this may cause you to question whether to drink it, you may find that what it has to offer may be what you were looking for - especially if you are getting the nutrients offered in soy and cow's milk from other sources. Almond milk is virtually free of saturated fat, cholesterol, and lactose. It’s also rich in magnesium, selenium, manganese and vitamin E.

Nutrition Knock-Out Facts for Almond milk (1 cup): 60 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 293 mg of calcium, 60 mg potassium

 

And the Knock Out Punch...

It's hard to choose a winner here since each option provides many positive health benefits; however, no fight would be complete without declaring a winner. Soy milk wins this food fight, but just barely. With its stellar nutrition profile and lack of controversy, soy milk is a great way to meet your daily dairy requirements on a regular basis. Nevertheless, other milk varieties, almond and cow included, can easily be incorporated into a healthy meal plan.

 

More from Diets in Review:

Organic Milke is Healthier, Finds Scientists

Chocolate Milk: The Best Post-Workout Recovery Drink

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