What do coconut, soy, hemp, almonds, and peas have in common? They are all sources of non-dairy milk alternatives. A whole new milk experience is hitting the shelves of Whole Foods next week (May 2), and you might be surprised by its manufacturer. The mega-popular Method brand (a supplier of mostly sustainable cleaning and household products) is branching out to turn a sustainable crop (organic yellow peas) into an eco-friendly milk. The new milk brand, Ripple, is said to contain 8 grams of protein. Compared to cow's milk, the pea milk will have less sugar, 50 percent more calcium, and greater amounts of both potassium and vitamin D. With yet another non-dairy option on store shelves, how do you even begin choosing what's best for you? First, start by thinking about what's most important to you—low-calorie, high-protein, sustainability or something else entirely. Once you've decided what you're looking for, take a look to see how some of the top options rank.
Below comparisons are based on 1 cup of unsweetened versions of each of non-dairy milk, as many of the original or flavored versions contain added sugar, increasing both carbs and calories.
Protein: If protein is your focus, pea and soy milk are neck and neck with 8 and 7 grams per cup respectively, compared to two percent milk which has 8 grams. Hemp and coconut milk are probably not your best choices as they only have 1-2 grams of protein, and almond milk has none.
Fat: Almond milk is the winner in this category with less than 3 grams of total fat per cup while coconut, soy, hemp and the new pea milk all have more than 4 grams of fat.
Sugar: You can't beat pea milk if you want to reduce carb intake. Ripple boasts zero carbs and sugar, similar to almond milk with less than 1 gram of each. Coconut and hemp milk are also good options when watching sugar, as they each have only 1 gram per cup.
Calcium and vitamin D: One cup of pea, almond, soy, and hemp milk each provide more than 30 percent of your daily calcium and 25 percent of your daily vitamin D recommendations.
Calories: Almond milk will cost you the least amount of calories with 30 calories per cup. Coconut milk has 45 calories per cup, the new pea milk has 75 calories per cup. Finally, both hemp and soy milk will each cost you just 80 calories per cup—any way you sip it, that's a good calorie deal. (Wait, Should You Give Up Dairy to Lose Weight?)
Here's the bottom line when it comes to choosing non-dairy milks. They each have something to offer nutritionally, and there is no single best option for everyone. Choose what's important to you, don't be afraid to mix it up, and of course drink, gulp, or pour what you think tastes best!