The differences between 10 different types of milk — and how to know which you should be drinking

ShutterstockThere are a lot of milk options to choose from.

With so many choices out there, the type of milk you choose really comes down to what health benefits you are looking for, what limitations you have, and your personal preference.

INSIDER spoke with several dietitians about the potential benefits and drawbacks of 10 different types of milk.


Cow’s milk has a lot of benefits.

S_E/ShutterstockIt’s packed with calcium.

Cow’s milk is a high source of important proteins, vitamins, and minerals, Lauren Smith, MS, RD, LDN, of Dietitians of Palm Valley told INSIDER.

One cup of cow’s milk provides 8.5 grams of high-quality protein, 30% of your daily calcium needs and 25% of your daily vitamin D needs. And, despite being more calorie-dense than some other milk alternatives, cow’s milk has sometimes been shown to prevent weight gain.

But, of course, it also contains lactose, so if you’re sensitive to it, it’s best to look for an alternative.


Almond milk is a decent option for those on the keto diet.

Vivianna_love / FlickrIt’s generally low in fat.

Unsweetened almond milk is a great choice for anyone following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, Smith told INSIDER.

It’s low in calories, low in sugar, and fortified with antioxidants. But, it is lacking in protein– it contains less than one gram of protein per serving. Almond milk is generally low in fat and low in most nutrients.


Oat milk gives you an added boost of fibre.

ShutterstockIt’s high in carbohydrates.

Oat milk has recently become a popular vegan alternative, likely because it’s cheaper to manufacture than almond or soy milk.

It’s high in fibre and beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre that can lower cholesterol and aid in gut healing, Dahlia Marin, RDN, plant-based expert, and co-founder of Married To Health told INSIDER.

However, oat milk is higher in carbohydrates and natural sugars than nut-based milks.


Pea milk has a smooth and creamy taste.

Flickr / Kari SöderholmNo, the milk isn’t actually green.

Pea milk has just as much protein and soy as cow’s milk, and it has a creamy texture that other types of non-dairy milk lack.

But, whether or not you choose pea milk might have something to do with your taste buds. According to Today’s Dietitian, plant-based protein milk like pea milk sometimes have “a beany or grassy flavour.”


In terms of nutrients, soy milk is the closest equivalent to cow’s milk.

FlickrIt’s a good post-workout option.

Soy milk is the closest equivalent to cow’s milk, Sylvia North, New Zealand registered dietitian, MSc, BSc told INSIDER.

It is high in protein, contains all of the essential amino acids, and is often fortified with calcium for bone health.

This milk is also a good post-workout option for its protein content, Smith told INSIDER. It contains eight grams per cup and is considered a heart-healthy food for those at risk of cardiovascular diseases.


Coconut milk is a low-calorie option.

ShutterstockBut, it is high in fat.

For those with nut allergies or sensitivities, coconut milk is a great low-calorie option.

It is high in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which support brain function and is usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D, Amanda Barnes, MS, RD told INSIDER.

But, coconut milk lacks protein and is high in fat and simple carbs.


Hemp milk is rich in nutrients.

ShutterstockIt’s high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Hemp milk is higher in calories than other alternatives but is very rich in nutrients.

It contains all nine essential amino acids and is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

It is also a complete vegan protein source, Marin told INSIDER. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, that aid in brain and heart health.


Macadamia nut milk comes very close to tasting like cow’s milk.

ShutterstockIt’s one of the more expensive non-dairy milks.

If you’re looking for a non-dairy option that tastes like cow’s milk, macadamia nut milk may be one of the better options.

Though it’s a bit pricier than most other types of milk, it has a subtle, buttery, nutty flavour that comes pretty close to that of cow’s milk.

It is also high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, Marin told INSIDER.


Rice milk is good for those with multiple allergies or sensitivities.

SpencerWing/PixabayIt might raise your blood sugar levels.

This is a good option for those who have multiple sensitivities, such as those allergic to nuts, dairy, and soy.

Rice milk offers little nutritional value since it is mainly rice starch mixed with water. It may also raise blood sugar and arsenic levels, Marin told INSIDER.


Cashew milk is low in calories, carbs, and sugar.

Wikimedia CommonsIt’s low in carbs.

Cashew milk is low in calories, carbs, and sugar. It is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. But, it is low in protein.

It’s a good option for those with blood sugar imbalances and those looking for a low-calorie dairy alternative, Marin told INSIDER.

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