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Food Fight: Milk vs. Milk

Written on November 9, 2011 at 11:10 am , by

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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

  • Kelly

    I would definitely not say that Soy milk has a lack of controversy. What about it’s effects on the thyroid (and hormones)? And Monsanto’s connection to a huge percentage of the soy grown in the US? Almond milk is literally the only “milk” I haven’t heard controversy about.

  • Melanee

    I have to agree with Kelly on soy milk not being controversial. It’s probably one milk I’d stay away from due to Monsanto and the fact that almost all soy is genetically modified.

  • Catey

    I too am surprised that soy milk in theory has a “lack of controversy”! Especially coming from an RD? Wow. Soy is hugely controversial, especially in young children. Many many drs are suggesting that instead of soy milk (which used to be the default for kids who can’t have regular milk), that they be given almond milk or coconut milk. My youngest has problems with dairy and we have gone the coconut milk route. With it’s growing popularity I’m surprised it wasn’t included here.

  • Tricia

    Switching to Almond!

  • http://dietsinreview.com Kati Mora, RD

    Indeed, I guess one could say that no food goes without controversy – soy-based products included. Although GMOs are a hot topic, the majority of soy milk available on the market does not come from genetically modified soy beans. But when in doubt, don’t be afraid to contact the company for additional information on whether they use GM soy beans in the production of their milk. You may also find the Non-GMO Project website to be helpful (http://nongmoproject.org).

  • Brian

    My family LOVES soy milk! Can’t get my kids to drink regular cow’s milk, but they can’t get enough of the soy brands! I also appreciate that they get the protein they’d otherwise be missing in the morning, unlike with the Almond milk.

  • Chris

    Sorry but unlike the others that have a bad opinion of soy milk I disagree with their comments regarding hormones etc. also thinking the following…and I quote from Melanee ” the fact that almost all soy is genetically modified” well this is WRONG…were are you getting your information, more reading and education on soy is required, there are plenty of organic soy products that are not GMO’s at least here in Canada there is. I am vegan have been for 3 years, I drink soya milk, have regular check ups with my Dr., get body analysis done by my personal trainer, I am physically active 6 days a week with running and weight training and I have absolutley NO problems with soy milk or any other soy products. It is being educated with the products you consume and having them in moderation.

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  • KB

    Well, soy milk is not really my cup of tea. But, for those individuals that are not as likely to partake in the regular consumption of dairy products, soy milk is an excellent option. To my knowledge, evidence suggests that soy milk is still a viable option for obtaining adequate protein and other nutrients. Way to go, Kati Mora, you are an excellent and well-versed Dietitian.

  • JR

    I feel bad for those individuals who would rather consume almond milk over soy milk to follow a silly diet trend. For those of you who are drinking almond milk, the protein is non-existent and it is not a complete dairy source. Although there are things to be said about cow’s milk and soy milk; they are, by far superior to almond milk. Soy milk does provide the best of both worlds for individuals who may be vegetarian or vegan. I can certainly understand and agree with Kati Mora’s decision for choosing soy milk.

    Furthermore, if you are investing time to debate genetically modified soybeans, maybe you should put that time to good use and get your facts straight. Soybeans that are found in soy milk products for human consumption are not genetically modified, and pose no potential risk to the general population. This is why Registered Dietitians (RD’s) are needed for nutrition education! Great post Kati Mora, MS, RD!

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    There was a time when huge celebrities who largely avoided domestic advertising in order to maintain their pristine images for Belstaff Down Jackets fans did ad campaigns overseas for big bucks and Americans were none the wiser.Michael Kors Outlet, we now have a peek at Gwyneth Paltrow‘s first ads as the international brand ambassador for Belstaff Jackets UK.American consumers already have a vision of Coach and a vision of Gwyneth Paltrow, and those two vision don’t necessarily intersect. And that’s fine, because Belstaff Jackets is already raking in bushels of money on its current, carefully crafted American branding.But for an overseas audience that’s less familiar with the position that Beats By Dre Norge has in the American fashion landscape, the fresh-faced, blonde, blue-eyed actress against a blurry, fast-paced Manhattan backdrop likely reflects exactly the combination of urbanity and Americanness that Coach Outlet would like its foreign customers to see when they look at one of the brand’s handbags. She certainly does look happy with her patent leather satchel.