These days, you can usually choose from several different types of milk when you grocery shop or order out. This post compares three common types of milk: dairy milk, coconut milk and rice milk.
Advantages of Dairy/Cow Milk: Dairy milk contributes essential nutrients to the human diet, including calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Consuming dairy milk has been associated with reduced risk of chronic disease and reduced body fat. Dairy milk is also higher in protein as compared to coconut milk and rice milk, and is lower in fat than coconut milk.
Disadvantages of Dairy/Cow Milk: Dairy milk protein is one of the leading causes of food allergy in infants and children. Many adults are also lactose intolerant. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Those who are lactose intolerant are not able to fully digest the lactose in dairy products, leading to gastrointestinal distress.
Advantages of Coconut Milk: Coconut milk has been popular in the U.S. since 1957, and has been used around the world for nutritional and medicinal purposes for centuries. Coconut milk tastes better to most people when compared with other types of milk (Journal of Food and Nutritional Research, 2014).
Disadvantages of Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is higher in fat than dairy milk. However, it only increases HDL cholesterol, which is good for your overall health.
Advantages of Rice Milk: Alternatives to dairy milk are often necessary for those with food allergies or intolerances. Rice milk can be a great alternative because it is tolerated by more than 90 percent of children who are allergic to cow’s milk. Rice milk has a lower fat content as compared to other types of milk, which can be good for adults concerned about their weight.
Disadvantages of Rice Milk: The lower fat content and protein levels in rice milk can be bad for growing infants and children if their diet is not monitored closely. There have also been questions about arsenic levels found in rice milk, but too many questions remain to force a consensus in the scientific community.
No one type of milk is better than the other. Each of the three types of milk have advantages and disadvantages depending on your tastes and unique dietary needs.
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.