Nutrition and You!

Got Milk? It's a Dizzying Zoo of Choices

In a quest to improve his health, Brian, a 42-year-old mechanical engineer in Watertown, Mass., switched from pouring half and half in his morning java to using sweetened almond vanilla milk. His wife bakes her weekend morning pancakes with almond coconut milk to give the stack a distinct flavor.

They are not the only ones branching out and trying a variety of flavored dairy and non-dairy milks.

According to Mintel research, this alternative milk category appears to be growing although nowhere near the sales of plain milk from cows. In a recent survey that Mintel conducted, over 60 percent of the 2,000 adults interviewed stated that they consider a flavored milk a healthy alternative to soda (which it is) and over 25 percent think that non-dairy milk offers more sophisticated flavors than flavored dairy milk.

I took a recent trip to the supermarket and was blinded by the varieties of milk available. In addition to the classics, whole, 2 percent, 1 percent, and nonfatóall referring to the fat content, or lack of it--you can now get soy, almond, coconut, coffee, and multiple combinations of milks for the picking.

Nutritionally, compared to skim milk, all of the varieties that I looked at provided the same, if not more, vitamin D and calcium per serving, which are two nutrients that Americans are falling short of in their diets. Another plus is that all the flavored milks, except for coconut milk, are very low in heart-unhealthy saturated fat.

Unfortunately, these milk alternatives not only could cost as much as 50 percent more than cowís milk but some also had less protein and more added sugars. Protein has been the recent media nutrient darling for health benefits, whereas added sugars are the talk of the town for adding calories and little else to beverages.

Here is a sampling of the varieties that I found and how a serving compares to nonfat milk. At the end of the list are some tips to help you add some flavor to your milk for less cost, and perhaps, calories.

Chart flavored.PNG
Chart soymilk.PNG
chart almond.PNG
chart coconut.PNG
Chart Blends.PNG

Dizzy, yet?

If you wanted flavored milk or nondairy beverages with less sugar, calories, and potentially less cost, try these tips:

Add coffee, almond, chocolate, or coconut extract to plain skim milk or soy milk for an inexpensive flavored milk. In fact, you can also buy hazelnut, maple, peppermint, and raspberry extracts. The combinations are endless.

Add cocoa powder to plain milk or an unsweetened, nondairy milk beverage for your cocoa beverage.

Blend frozen strawberries with any plain milk or unsweetened nondairy milk for natural sweetness and a boost of fiber in your strawberry beverage.

Be well, Joan

Follow Joan on Twitter: @JoanSalgeBlake

Continue Reading Below