We’ve all been there: You get to the front of the coffee line, and you still haven’t settled on what milk you should put in your latte. Soy? Almond? Skim?
We’re here to help, at least on the nutrition end.
We evaluated some of the most commonly used dairy milk and milk substitutes and stacked them up based on how much protein, vitamins, and minerals they contain relative to their fat, sugar and calorie content. (Unless a brand is otherwise specified, we used the nutritional content provided by the USDA.)
Find out how your favourite dairy or non-dairy beverage stacks up:
Soy milk, unfortunately, hits the bottom of the list. According to the USDA, the average 8-oz. glass of soy milk has 8 grams of protein (the highest amount found in any serving of milk on this list). But it also contains 131 calories and 10 grams of sugar -- high compared to the other beverages on this list -- and comparatively few vitamins and nutrients.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 131
Rice milk packs in about 25% of your daily vitamin D content (an important nutrient that can be tricky to come by), but with 13 grams of sugar and less than a gram of protein per cup, it didn't stack up very well to most of the other dairy and non-dairy milks on the list.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 112
Whole milk may taste the best in a latte, but with 8 grams of fat, it's probably not the healthiest. Still, an 8-oz. glass of whole milk does contain the most vitamin D of any of the milks on this list, with almost a third of your daily intake!
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 148
This earthy-tasting coffee alternative has 30% of your daily vitamin D intake and half of your daily calcium intake, but it also has the most sugar of any milks on the list at 14 grams per 8-oz. serving. Plus, it has only 3 grams of protein, pretty low compared to the rest.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 140
This dairy milk fell firmly in the center of our ranking. The drink has some fat (2.4 grams), 13 grams of sugar, but also packs in 8 grams of protein with fewer calories than whole milk.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 103
Coconut milk beverage (because there's a fair amount of variability here, we referenced Silk's version) had some of the highest B12 content of the milks on the list and was relatively low in calories. However, it didn't contain any protein, which is one of the main reasons people drink milk in the first place.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 80
Almondmilk (one word, so as not to be confused with dairy-based milk) surprisingly doesn't have as much protein -- 1 gram per serving -- as you might expect from a nut milk. Almondmilk makes up for its lack of protein in vitamin D and calcium content (25% and 45% of your daily content, respectively). It's also very low in calories. For this milk, we referenced Almond Breeze's nutritional label.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 30
Cashew milk slightly out-edged almondmilk when accounting for calories and fat content, although their nutritional content was virtually the same. Cashew milk contained less than one gram of protein in a serving.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 25
As expected, skim or nonfat milk came in at the top of the dairy -- and non-dairy -- milks, with only .2 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein, along with a solid amount of calcium and vitamin B12 (The only place it came up short was the vitamin D; it has none).
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 83
The lactose-free milk alternative surprisingly topped the list, in part because it's fortified with 25% of your daily vitamin D, which gave it the edge on standard nonfat milk. With 8 grams of protein, 50% of your daily calcium intake, and just 90 calories, it reigned as the supreme milk included on this list.
Calories per 8-oz. glass: 90
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