There are many easy ways to choose the best dairy-free products today. While they aren’t necessarily unhealthy, many people prefer more natural and non-dairy products. And the demand is getting higher in recent times.
One vital information everyone must acquaint himself or herself with is to carefully check the nutritional composition of every brand. This is because they can vary greatly between brands. Be sure to read the label if you’re looking for a specific amount of carbohydrates, fat or protein and so on. This will help you to make the right choices when it comes to diary-free products.
No doubt, dairy foods play a key role in many people’s diets because a number of food products are made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats. They are the likes of your cheese, yogurt, milk, butter, and ice cream.
But if you can’t or don’t desire dairy, you can find non-dairy alternatives to these and many other dairy foods. This article will guide you in choosing the best dairy-free products.
Reasons People Look for Dairy Substitutes
There are several reasons people might be looking for substitutes for dairy. Let’s look at a few reasons.
A. Milk Allergy: According to MedlinePlus 2 -3% of children under age 3 have a milk allergy. This can cause a range of symptoms from hives and stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis. However, most kids outgrow it by their teenage years.
B. Potential Contaminants: Some people choose to forgo dairy due to a concern over potential contaminants in conventional milk and dairy products, including hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.
But the good news is there are plenty of substitutes for all the major dairy foods, as examined below.
A. Milk Substitutes
Nutritionally speaking, milk is rich in protein, carbohydrates and calcium. In fact, 1 cup of whole milk provides 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates.
Plant-based milk alternatives can be made from legumes (soy), cereals (oats, rice), nuts (almond, coconut), seeds (flax, hemp) or other grains (quinoa, teff).
Some products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D to make them similar to dairy milk while others are not. Certain alternative milks may also be fortified with vitamin B12.
The good news on best dairy-free products to choose is that many of these non-dairy milks also have added sugars to enhance their taste, although most brands offer an unsweetened version.
Below are some of the most common milk substitutes, along with their basic nutrition information for one cup of the “original” versions. With these vital pieces of information, you can choose wisely.
Soy milk: Contains 109 calories, five grams of fat and seven grams of protein and eight grams of carbohydrates.
Rice milk: Contains 120 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, one gram of protein and 23 grams of carbohydrates.
Oat milk: Contains 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, four grams of protein and 24 grams of carbohydrates.
Coconut milk: Contains 80 calories, five grams of fat, zero grams of protein and seven grams of carbohydrates.
Cashew milk: Contains 60 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, one gram of protein and nine grams of carbohydrates.
Note that the nutrient content of non-dairy milks varies substantially, although across the board they’re lower in fat compared to cow’s milk.
B. Yogurt Replacements
Know that some types of yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, are higher in protein, while flavoured yogurts are generally higher in carbohydrates from added sugar.
As with non-dairy milks, substitutes for yogurt are made from nuts, seeds, coconut and soy, and are made by adding probiotic bacteria.
Although nutrition content can vary widely based on brand, here’s a general comparison of the different non-dairy yogurt alternatives. These are all based on six ounces of the “plain” flavour.
Looking for low calories or fat, try your hands on coconut milk yogurt, almond milk yogurt, soy milk yogurt and hemp yogurt with 147 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 11 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates and 3.4 grams of fibre.
C. Butter Alternatives
Let’s see yet another dairy-free product to choose. Butter is made by churning cream until it hardens. It lends fat and flavour to food and is often used as a spread on bread, to dress cooked vegetables or meats, or as a cooking or baking ingredient.
The many non-dairy butter alternatives that currently exist are either made from vegetable oils or coconut.
Some have the same number of calories as cow’s milk butter. Others have more protein or carbohydrates than butter, but this isn’t true across the board.
Nut and seed butters, such as those made from almond, cashew and sunflower seeds, are also options. This solely depends on what you plan to use the butter substitute for.
You can also make your own dairy-free butters at home. This one uses a blend of coconut oil, liquid oils and non-dairy milk.
Coconut milk and cream are versatile substitutes for dairy-based creams. There are also soy-, nut- and vegetable-oil-based substitutes, but watch out for unwanted ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils.
D. Ice Cream Substitutes
It is unarguable that a roundup of alternatives to common dairy foods wouldn’t be complete without ice cream.
Interestingly, there are several non-dairy ice cream options, including: Creamy ice creams made from non-dairy milks, including coconut milk and soy milk.
Homemade ice-cream: Like desserts made from blending frozen bananas with other flavourings or berries.
With so many non-dairy substitutes around, you should be able to find replacements for any non-dairy food you need.
However, there are a few things to watch out for when choosing non-dairy products such as added sugars, fillers.
Again, to ensure you get what you’re looking for, read labels to see what ingredients and nutrients are in the product you’re buying.
The bottom line
There are many options for substituting common dairy foods. You can make homemade versions of cheese, ice cream, sour cream and more. You can also find them at the grocery store.
Most of them are made from plant-based ingredients, such as soy, nuts or coconut. Just know the options available and choose the best dairy-free products for a healthy lifestyle.