Q&A: Dairy vs. Non-Dairy Milk, The Calcium Showdown

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Source: English Tea Blog by A.C. Cargill

A good friend of mine, recently got in touch to say she loved my Greenie recipes but was used to making her morning smoothies with skim milk or Greek yogurt. What follows is the a little MOARyoga Q&A and the first in an ongoing series of Nutrition FAQs that will appear on my blog over time. Let the edification begin!

(Q): Is almond milk or rice milk healthier than skim milk? And is there still calcium in those?

(A): I prefer almond milk and almond milk yogurt due to my dairy allergy.

Soy and rice milk are also common alternatives used in smoothies. I like almond milk because it has less calories and more vitamin E than the others. Plus, given the debate surrounding the pros and cons of soy products, I tend to steer clear of soy milk.

In terms of calcium, our RDA (that’s “recommended daily allowance” in nutrition vernacular) is between 1000-1300 mg. Here’s a little breakdown per 8 oz serving:

  • Skim milk: 300 mg
  • Soy milk: 50 mg
  • Almond milk: 2 mg
  • Rice milk: 1 mg

On its own, milk is clearly the winner when it comes to being a natural source of dietary calcium, so if it agrees with your system I say stick to skim or 1% milk (just be sure it is fortified with Vitamin D which your body needs in order to absorb this important mineral). If you’re trying to cut back on calories, fortified almond milk is the way to go because it will save you about 50 calories per serving. Whether you’re watching your calories or you suffer from lactose-intolerance like myself, after fortification cow, soy, almond and rice milk are pretty much equivalent to milk (and sometimes surpass it) in calcium and vitamin D concentrations, delivering about 30% of your daily need for calcium and 25-45% of vitamin D per serving. Just make sure you shake the carton because these fortified nutrients tend to settle at the bottom (precipitation).

I’m a fan of Almond Breeze and Silk‘s PureAlmond unsweetened vanilla almond milks. Most brands will come in both the small, rectangular cartons (which are not refrigerated in grocery stores but need to be once opened) and the bigger pour cartons that should be available in your grocer’s dairy section.

If you have a question you’d like to submit for a future MOARyoga Q&A post, contact me at amy.rizzotto@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

3 Comments

  1. What are your thoughts on coconut milk in place of soy or almond milk?

    • Hi Siobhan!

      Coconut milk is a great alternative if you don’t like the taste of or have an allergy/sensitivity to soy or almond milk. The only catch is it often has a higher calorie and fat count than the other two. It really depends on the brand though so give them a good comparison next time you’re in the store. With any of these alternatives, go for the unsweetened version because you’ll still get all the benefits (Vitamin B, E, Calcium, etc) without the added sugars.

      Almond breeze makes a great unsweetened coconut-almond milk blend. I use the vanilla kind to make my chia seed pudding and like to add a splash of it to my oatmeal.

      Hope this was helpful 🙂
      Amy

  2. Yes yes yes!!!! Love this! Super helpful Amy. About to try out some of the Greenies this weekend!!