What is the healthiest plant milk to drink for period health?
There are many reasons why women choose to opt for milk alternatives. If you want to know why I suggest to try goat milk before switching to plant-based alternatives, check out my post Cow milk vs Goat milk: which milk is best for women.
But if you have milk allergy or perhaps you already decided to opt for plant-based beverages, one of the important things to remember is although these "milks" look very similar to animal milk, they are each VERY different in nutritional content.
In fact, the same milk alternative may also have different nutrients and amounts depending on the brand and their unique recipe!
Which plant-based milk is the healthiest? Comparative review:
👉 Unsweetened soy milk is the most nutritionally balanced of all milk alternatives, and is the closest to cow's milk in terms of total protein. It has less calories and less fat than cow's milk. It also has less calcium unless it is fortified. But, I generally don't recommend it to my female clients. Soy itself is quite beneficial for hormones of the menstrual cycle, but processed soy products, particularly soy milks can do the opposite. If you like soy milk, choose organic products, with clean and simple labels.
👉 Unsweetened oat milk has a higher amount of calories compared to other plant-based milk varieties, but it is still significantly lower than in cow's milk. It is low in fat. However, it is also low in calcium and protein, so make sure you get fortified kinds if this is your drink of choice.
👉 Unsweetened almond and cashew milks have a very low amount of fat (similar to oat milk), very little calories and almost no protein. This may be confusing because almonds and cashews themselves are good sources of fiber, protein, and calcium. That is because it's mostly water and while nuts are very nutritious, unfortified nut milks are not. So just as with oat milk, choose fortified varieties for better nutrition!
👉 Unsweetened hemp milk is low in calories and protein; however, it has more protein than almond and cashew milks. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, which is a huge bonus in the context of supporting hormones of the menstrual cycle! It doesn't produce any psychoactive effects and is considered safe for all ages.
👉 Unsweetened coconut milk naturally has no protein or calcium (unless it was added by fortification) and is high in fat (including saturated fat). I generally advise to reserve this one for cooking rather than drinking, and look for other plant-based milk options.
👉 Unsweetened rice milk has more calories than other alternatives, with most coming from carbohydrates. It is very low in fat, calcium, protein, and other nutrients so same as with coconut milk, I would mark rice milk as my least favourite choice.
The bottom line is that there are many different plant-based beverages with different nutrients, but none of them are true "milks" and none of them are as nutritious as original foods they were extracted from. So: