How do you take your coffee? If you're not taking it black, the milk you're adding to it can instantly take your morning cup of joe from healthy to harmful. In other words, not all milk is created equal. There's long been a debate about which milk is best for your health. Soy came in and out of fashion as an alternative to cow milk, and now nut milk is widely available for those looking for a dairy-free alternative.
But how do each of these compare? U.S. News & World Report found out which type of milk is healthiest, and it may have you reconsidering your milk go-to. Comparing milk variations by calories, total fat, saturated fat, protein, sugar, and calcium, the report gave a concise nutrient breakdown for each option.
Types of Milk
Cow's milk is packed with essential nutrients, but it also comes loaded with sugar and saturated fat. Many people also suffer from intolerance to animal milk, so while consuming nonfat or 1% milk is recommended, not everyone has that option.
Sweetened versions of any milk (as is often the case of soy and nut milk) are not doing your body any favors. Nixing the added sugar, cashew milk boasts the fewest calories but provides little protein.
Rice milk is relatively high in calories and low in protein.
Soy milk is relatively high in protein.
Overall, unsweetened almond milk boasts the second-fewest calories after cashew yet provides more calcium than cow's milk and more protein than rice or cashew. With no sugar and the lowest fat count behind unsweetened cashew and nonfat milk, unsweetened almond milk is the healthiest choice.
USDA Agricultural Research Center. Milk. Updated May 3, 2018.
USDA Agricultural Research Service. Cashew Milk. Updated April 1, 2019.
Vanga SK, Raghavan V. How Well Do Plant Based Alternatives Fare Nutritionally Compared to Cow's Milk?. J Food Sci Technol. 2018;55(1):10-20.doi:10.1007/s13197-017-2915-y