Milk vs. Milk Substitutes - Washington Dairy

Milk vs. Milk Substitutes

Let’s take a closer look at milk versus “milk” substitutes, starting with real milk.

In recent years, drinking natural, delicious milk has been labeled as something that is “unhealthy” and “unintended by nature.” In its stead, milk critics have begun to drink other “milks” they claim to be healthier, more sustainable and more natural than farm fresh cow’s milk. But are they really?

Milk is an all-natural food that takes about 48 hours to get from the cow to your grocery store. Milk is naturally nutrient-rich, delivering a powerful package of 9 such nutrients that are essential for every body: calcium, potassium, phosphorous, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin. The calcium in milk isn’t added, so the human body can absorb it more easily. Plus, milk has at least 8 grams of protein in every 8 ounce serving.

There are a gammet of non-dairy milk substitutes out there, but when it comes to nutrition many of them don’t stack up to real milk. The process of making milk substitutes is exactly that: a process. Extracting fluids from beans, seeds and nuts is cumbersome, and most plant-based milk alternatives are fortified in an attempt to match milk’s unbeatable nutrient package. Because there are so many alternatives out there, we’ve come up with an easy checklist to help shoppers decide which beverage is the best choice when reading through a nutrition label.


Which beverage has the most calories?

The number of calories depends on the amount of protein fat and carbohydrate in the beverage.


Which beverage has the least amount of Total Fat?

Your overall heath is impacted by the type and amount of fat you include in your diet.


Find all the carbohydrates and sugars in your beverage.

Sugars include natural and added sugars. Lactose, for example, is a naturally occurring sugar in milk. Many milk substitutes have added sugars (just look for all the words that end in “ose”) that add flavor and, of course, calories.


Which beverage provides the most protein?

Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle.


Is the calcium natural or added?

Calcium is important for bone health and is found naturally in real milk.


How many ingredients are in your beverage?

When it comes to the ingredients list, less is more — and fat-free milk has only three ingredients.


A quick glance at a few nutrition facts will show you that milk is the clear winner. So next time you head to the store, be sure to check the labels, get the facts — and choose real milk!

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