Soy, Almond, Oat, And Rice Milk: What’s The Difference?

Switching to dairy-free milk?

IMAGE Pixabay

If you've been making small changes to your diet to help boost your nutrition, you may have opted for dairy-free alternatives to your usual cow's milk. Not only is this a good option for those with lactose intolerance and diabetes, it's also a great way to lessen your calorie count and daily carb intake. There are a few kinds to choose from and if you're confused about which would be best for you, we're here to help. This handy guide will help you differentiate between soy, almond, oat, and rice milk. Plus, we list some options you can shop around the Metro, so you'll have no problem finding each one.

First, a note about cow's milk, just so you have a point of comparison: cow's milk or whole milk is known to have the highest fat content among all types of milk, though it's also rich in natural protein and calcium. There are of course low-fat and fat-free cow's milk variants, but note that while the calorie count of those alternatives is lower, their nutritional benefits may also be decreased. Whole milk is also a no-no for those who can't properly process lactose (about 65% of the entire population) and those who are sticking to plant-based diets. So to choose the kind of milk that works best for you, try to take note of what nutritional benefits you're looking for whether low-calorie, high-protein, or allergy-friendly.

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Here's a rundown of the differences between soy, almond, oat, and rice milk:

Silk Vanilla Soy Milk (P149.75); available at Landers
Photo by Landers

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a plant-based milk made from soybeans and water. It contains no lactose and has a lower carbohydrate and fat content compared to cow's milk. In terms of protein, soy milk has about the same percent as cow's milk, making it ideal for those trying to build protein without ingesting an excess amount of fat. If you're looking for non-dairy milks that boast the same thickness as whole milk, soy milk will likely be your best bet. Note, however, that most non-dairy milks contain thickeners to improve consistency and shelf life. Another thing to keep in mind is that soy is a common allergen, so be sure to consult a doctor if you've ever experienced any sensitivity with nuts or beans.

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Almond Breeze Original Unsweeted Almond Milk (P210); available at Healthy Options
Photo by healthy options

Almond Milk

Almond milk is made from ground almonds that are infused in water and then filtered out. You can probably guess that this option is a big no-no for those with nut allergies. Its biggest selling point is perhaps that it has the lowest calorie count among all the milk options, so if you're looking for a milk that won't interfere with your low-cal diet, this is a good pick. It's also naturally lactose-free and contains no saturated fat. Just make sure you stick to an unsweetened variant. Note however that almond milk is not a good source of protein or calcium, so you'll want to look to other foods to get those nutrients if you'll be incoporating this into your diet.

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Pacific Fooda Organic Oat Milk (P195); available at Healthy Options
Photo by Healthy Options

Oat Milk

If you like incorporating grains into your diet to up your fiber intake, you may like oat milk as it's made from whole oats soaked in water. Oats absorb water more easily than nuts or beans, so more of the oats' nutrients are transferred to the milk compared to nut-based milks. Oat milk's calorie count is just slightly lower than dairy milk and it's fairly high in carbs, but it contains less fat than whole milk and has more calcium than almond and rice milk, so it's a good in-between option if you're considering both weight loss and nutritional benefits. Plus, its high fiber content (the highest among all dairy and non-dairy options) is great to aid digestion.

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Pure Harvest Organic Enriched Rice Milk (P195); available at Healthy Options
Photo by Healthy Options

Rice Milk

Though its calorie count is lower than cow's milk, rice milk contains the most carbohydrates of all the milks mentioned on this list, so it's not ideal for those watching their weight or those with metabolic disorders like diabetes. However, rice milk is the safest option for anyone with lactose intolerance, nut allergies, or any kind of stomach sensitivity as it is the least likely to cause any allergic reactions. Rice also has a natural sweetness unlike soy or almond, so you might find that even sugar-free variants of rice milk will be instantly tasty.

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