Milk is a great example of how processed food has become. Once upon a time people drank milk fresh from a cow (or goat or sheep). 'Milk the cow' would have been an item on your to do list. Not so these days.
Let's take a look at the different milks available and see if I can make it a little easier for you to sort your almond milk, from your soy, cow, goat, rice, oat, A2, skinny milk, raw, pastuerised and homogenised. Oh add coconut milk to that list.
First, a couple of terms explained. You've probably noticed the words 'pasteurised' and 'homogenised' on the side of cow's milk cartons, essentially this means that the milk has been processed - read changed - from its natural state.
What is pasteurisation?
Pasteurisation is when milk is heated to approximately 72 degrees celcius for 15-20 seconds. The reason milk is treated in this way is to kill all disease-causing microbes.
What is homogenisation?
Basically homogenisation keeps the components of milk together. That is the cream, the fat, does not rise to the top as it did in an old-fashioned bottle of milk.
The name of this milk, A2, refers to the type of protein in the milk of Jersey and Guernsey cows. Whereas the milk from Holstein cows, the main breed of dairy cow in Australia, is A1. The key difference between A1 and A2 beta casein proteins is their digestibility, A2 is reported to be much easier to digest this is why it has become increasingly popular. Blogger and nutritionist Katie 180 has written this convincing post in support of switching to A2 milk. And this post from The Food Intolerance Network is worth a look.
Goat's milk has a very distinctive flavour and smell that for most people is quite overpowering in comparison to cow's milk. Some people who find the proteins in cow's milk difficult to digest, find the protein in goat's milk easier on their digestion. Again, the raw form of this milk is the most nutritionally dense. For more detailed information on goat's milk go here.
Rice Milk and Oat Milk
Milk from rice or oats? Yes when I stop and think about that it definitely does not seem right! If eating a low or no processed diet is your aim, then it is best to steer clear of milk substitutes such as these.
I started having rice milk on my porridge or muesli, or in a smoothie, a few years ago when I began weaning myself off soy milk (still a work in progress, I drink soy in my daily coffee). It is very important to read the ingredients on these milks, you might be surprised to learn that most contain oil of some kind such as sunflower and some also contain sweeteners and salt.
The subject of soy milk probably warrants a whole post of its own but keeping in context of this post if you are going to include soy milk in your diet look for organic, GMO, additive free and be mindful of the quantity you are consuming. There have been many links made between drinking soy milk and hormonal imbalance, namely relating to thyroid regulation. For more info read
The Myths and Facts about soy milk and my previous post on soy milk.
To say coconut anything is flavour of the month would be an understatement! I'm not sure about coconut milk in a morning cup of tea but definitely coconut milk is a great addition to your cooking be it in curries or in baking, or in your favorite smoothie. Here is an excellent article on coconut milk that includes directions to make your own.
As with rice and oat milk, milk from nuts? I'm not convinced. Once in a while I think almond milk is fine in your smoothie or if you like a warm milk drink. If you want to have a go at making almond milk at home here is a terrific post from The Kitchn on how to do it.
In my house we have rice milk for muesli or porridge and soy milk for chai. The bottle of A2 in the picture above I bought to use in a cake recipe, I am tempted to give A2 a go in place of the rice milk and soy milk but I don't like that it is not organic.
A friend who is a naturopath and agrees that deciding what to eat is difficult especially when there is so much conflicting information available, when it comes to milk she switches the variety around regularly, one week buying rice milk, raw milk the next, oat milk another time and so on.
Things to consider when it comes to choosing the right milk for you and your family
- Is it organic?
- Free of genetically modified ingredients?
- Monitor the quantity consumed
- Look for symptoms - such as congestion, tummy upsets, skin rashes - that could be related to the type and quantity of milk you are drinking.
- Switch milks around to see which one is the most compatible with your digestion and nutritional needs.
** remember, I am not a doctor or health practitioner if you require health or dietary advice please see a qualified professional who comes well recommended.
Choice magazine review of alternative milks
Coconut and almond milk in cartons not a healthy buy
Tell me, I am fascinated to know how many different kinds of milk you have in your fridge right now! Share your milk stories in the comments, it may well help someone else.