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Published on August 11, 2022

Milk-mania? A Breakdown of the Popular Types of Milk

glass of potato milk with potatoes beside it

By Cody Miller, EvergreenHealth Staff Writer

If you follow health trends, food fads or read the latest fitness magazines, you've likely seen just how often some new edible item comes into fashion.

The latest milky twist to drop, potato milk, is perhaps among the most shocking turns in the lactose-free industry, which is already home to items like coconut milk and hemp milk.

While the latest milk trend gets added to the mix, we can't help but wonder: how are these so-called "milks" made?

Last we checked, oats don't actually produce milk like cows do. Yet, there's oat milk. The same goes for soy, hemp, coconuts, almonds and now potatoes, among others.

All of these milks are produced in a very similar way that involves soaking them in water, blending them in a food processor and then straining them. What's left is the "milk."

Now that we know how the "milk" is made, lets dive into what sort of nutritional value the different kind of milks possess.

Dairy Milk

Beginning with the original, bovine delight, two key nutritional strengths of milk is that it is high in calcium and protein.

Skim (fat-free) milk is the best option for those that are watching their fat or caloric intake, those who are sensitive to dairy or are lactose intolerant should seek out a different milk.

Soy Milk

Another classic, soy milk is probably the best-known substitute for regular milk since it carries a lot of the same nutrients.

Completely plant-based, soy milk is high in calcium and has a decent amount of protein. However, it is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and potassium.

Coconut Milk

Craving tropical flavors? Coconut milk, typically used as a milk substitute while cooking or in coffee, is another popular animal-free "dairy" item you'll find in the grocery store.

As for some health benefits associated with coconut milk, research suggests it can help with weight loss through a type of fat that stimulate energy by producing heat.

Research has also found some evidence that coconut milk can help heart health through lauric acid, which is an antioxidant. Additional antioxidants in coconut could help defend against disease as well.

Almond Milk & Cashew Milk

Two go-tos for many lactose-sensitive folks still looking to soften their coffees or smoothies, unsweetened almond milk and cashew milk is low in calories, carbohydrates and protein.

However, they can be a good source of vitamin E and calcium. Many brands are fortified to contain more nutrients, but keep an eye out for added sugars.

Oat Milk

While it's naturally very high in fiber, oat milk is also much higher in carbohydrates and iron than any other milk.

Oat milk may also lower your high cholesterol due to beta-glucan, which is a type of soluble fiber. It's also commonly mixed with other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D.

Hemp Milk

While you might be more familiar with hemp t-shirts or bags, the seed of the Cannabis Sativa plant, which is used to make hemp milk, doesn't have any of the psychoactive chemical THC.

Hemp milk is low in carbohydrates and calories while also containing healthy fats and some protein.

Many commercially manufactured brands of hemp milk will also be enriched with vitamin D and calcium, but they likely contain added sugar as well.

Potato Milk

Among the more recent entrants in the milk game is potato milk. This milk substitute is a good alternative if you're looking to avoid lactose, nuts and soy.

However, potato milk is often enriched with other nutrients like calcium and vitamin D as well as a sweetener.

Buttermilk

Picking up its name as the liquid that was left over after churning cream into butter, buttermilk typically contains fewer calories than whole milk.

Additionally, buttermilk has less fat and contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Some recent research suggests buttermilk possibly reduces the growth of colon cancer cells.

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