Author: Francesca - Mr Lee's Team
Plant-based milks have become increasingly more popular in the past few years. It’s now easier than ever to find a variety of these in supermarkets and almost every café offers several options for your teas and coffees. Whether it’s rice, oat, almond or coconut the truth is that more people have started to ditch cow’s milk for these alternatives.
In 2019, a quarter of Brits consumed plant-based milks, a number which has increased significantly during the pandemic, with shoppers spending £100m more on these alternatives. Whilst some may consume these lactose free options for allergic reactions or stomach aches, others might do it for taste or texture preferences and others for moral and ethical reasons. Whatever the reason, there is a plethora of choices out there to choose from and they each provide quite a few health benefits. We asked Lucy Baldwin, Nutritional Therapist, to take a closer look.
"Plant based milks are a wonderful source of nutrients especially if you are looking for alternatives to dairy, alongside a healthy well-balanced diet. They are so tasty and nut milks are super easy to make on your own. Once you have invested in a nut milk bag it's so quick, simple and fun!" says Lucy.
Read more about the 5 most popular types of plant-based milks:
1. Almond milk
Almond milk has become quite popular recently. This drink is suitable for diabetics as it’s rich in magnesium, a mineral which is important for controlling blood sugar levels and using energy in the body.
Rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, it can reduce the risk of cognitive diseases. Its nutrients and antioxidants can also help protect your body from free radical damage which can contribute to cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases and cancer. Although this cow’s milk alternative is low in sugars and carbs, it still has a very rich flavour.
2. Coconut milk
Coconut milk makes a great base for smoothies, milkshakes and cakes and it also comes with an array of health benefits.
High in vitamin C and E, it has good antioxidant properties which help reduce aging and tumour growth. It’s also rich in potassium which is good for heart rhythm, magnesium that’s beneficial for a healthy immune system and phosphorus which is great for bones and teeth. Lucy explains that “coconut milk can be a good aid in weight loss as it contains short and medium chain healthy fats that help you feel satiated.”
Introducing coconut milk into your diet can help you avoid anaemia as it has a significant quantity of iron and it can also prevent heart disease by increasing HDL cholesterol, also known as ‘good cholesterol’, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
You may also see this dairy alternative used in hair conditioners and skin creams, this is because its high fat content helps reduce dandruff and itchiness and maintain skin elasticity.
Mr Lee’s range of vegan Porridges are all made with coconut milk and are available on our online store.
3. Rice milk
This dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk has a sweet taste and works very well for baking. “It’s also a good option for those who have nut allergies and can’t have the other dairy free options”, says Lucy.
Compared to the other alternatives, rice milk is the one with the least amount of fat, is cholesterol free and is a good source of vitamin B which has an impact on metabolism, circulation and nerve function. It also promotes cardiovascular health and contains a high amount of selenium and manganese, antioxidants which help fight infections and cancer.
4. Oat milk
This sweet and creamy dairy-free alternative is packed with nutrients and is a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Made from oats and normally enriched with vitamins and calcium, oat milk is low in saturated fat, cholesterol free and it’s the perfect option for those looking to increase their daily fibre intake. Its content of potassium, magnesium and zinc is also important for strengthening and forming bones.
5. Pea Milk
Not as popular as other alt-milks, pea milk is made by blending split yellow peas making it more nutrient dense than other plant-based milks.
In an unsweetened form, pea milk is highly nutritious, rich in iron, calcium and potassium and its added vitamin D and calcium support healthy bones. When it comes to protein, it is one of the highest compared to other alt-milks and it’s suitable for people with diabetes and those who want to follow a low-carb diet.
If you’ve decided to give plant-based milks a try after reading this post, we have a few suggestions for you: Rude Health has a wide variety of options, including barista editions of almond and oat milks and Plenish’s offers Cashew and Hazelnut milks. A great pea milk option is Mighty Pea with a range of six different pea milk products to choose from.
If you’d rather start with something different, why not try our porridges? Made with coconut milk, gluten-free oats and low in sugar they are the perfect option for those who are looking for a quick and convenient brekkie.