Vegetable milks have been gaining popularity for a while now. In markets and even coffee shops, it is common to find this option, which is tasty and nutritious.
Whether for those who follow a vegan or dairy-free diet of animal origin, or for those who like the taste and want to increase the intake of nutrients, vegetable milks bring more variety to have a coffee or make a recipe.
And there are several options – rice, soy, almonds and others! Do you want to know more about each one and its nutritional value? Check out the text:
What are vegetable milks?
Vegetable milks are those produced from grains or oilseeds, such as almonds, soybeans and rice. They are lactose-free and rich in nutrients, which vary according to the staple food.
In general, they are good options for those looking for a free diet of products of animal origin (such as vegan or ovolactovegetarian people), but also for those who have lactose intolerance, milk allergy or just like the taste of vegetable drinks.
So, the reasons for making the switch are quite different.
With a market increasingly interested in this type of product, the industrialized options are also greater – if, before, soy milk was the main product of the veg version of milk, now rice, oats and even almonds are already very common. .
In general, the vegetable drink has a higher amount of fiber and less cholesterol when compared to the animal version.
However, it is worth noting that calcium and proteins – which are present in animal milks – are not significantly part of most vegetable versions. However, to circumvent this, some companies find ways to circumvent this absence, as there are products fortified or enriched with nutrients.
But to make a healthy and balanced exchange, it is worth keeping an eye on the label, as there are vegetable drinks that have preservatives, sugar additives and even flavorings – this can make the exchange not so healthy.
What are the nutrients in vegetable milks?
The nutritional composition of vegetable milk will depend on which is the base food, so the ideal is to always take a look at the label. Most people have seen, or even consumed, soy milk. It is one of the vegetable options of the drink – being very popular even in flavored drinks and yoghurts -, but now it shares space with other versions. Among the most common ones that can be found in markets and stores are:
Vitamins and minerals are:
Fat-free, rice milk is a very popular option, especially because it is easy to find and not part of the ones with the highest cost – although it is also not the cheapest. In general, it is usually lighter and less creamy.
Vitamins and minerals are:
Oat milk tastes naturally more sweet. Regarding the price, it is also usually more affordable. The drink is still a source of fiber, iron, zinc and magnesium.
The nutrients and their approximate values are:
Quite popular, especially in recent years, coconut milk is naturally sweeter and with a characteristic, yet mild flavor. Source of good fats, it is a creamy option for a food free of animal products.
Vitamins and minerals are:
The almond drink is a source of magnesium and good fats. With a sweet and very mild flavor, it is a good option to replace animal milk in coffee or vitamins.
Among the main nutrients are:
Comparison between vegetable and animal milks
Vegetable milks, despite being practically perfect substitutes in terms of taste or use (for coffee or recipes, for example), have some differences in relation to the nutrients in cow’s milk. Therefore, it is worth seeing a comparison of some of the most common types of vegetable drink and the animal version per 250mL serving:
|Type of milk||Calories||Fat||Protein||Carbohydrate||Calcium|
What is the best vegetable milk?
The choice of the best vegetable milk will depend on some factors. In terms of taste, this varies according to individual taste, but in relation to nutrients, a little attention is needed on the label.
- Almond milk is rich in fiber and has high rates of good (unsaturated) fats. In general, its flavor is light and sweet, which makes it very pleasant for those who still miss animal milk. But the protein content is low;
- Oat milk has a high carbohydrate content. It is rich in nutrients, such as vitamin E, in addition to fiber, which helps in the functioning of the intestine – but it has less protein;
- Rice milk has a lighter flavor and many nutrients, such as those of the B complex. However, the drink has more saturated fat and few proteins;
- Soy milk has high amounts of protein and calcium, in addition to other nutrients. However, it is one of those that has the most marked flavor and, for many people, unpleasant.
These are just a few of the vegetable milks available. There are several others that can be found in stores or markets, or can be made at home. The best way to choose, then, is to look at the label and know what is being eaten (or, in the case of making vegetable milk at home, just look for the nutritional table of the base ingredient).
It is possible to intercalate the drinks rich in protein with some less caloric, for example. But it is essential to always balance the nutrients ingested in the milk with the rest of the diet.
Is all vegetable milk vegan?
All vegetable milk is lactose free and its base is not of animal origin. However, some care needs to be taken to know if the drink is in fact vegan – this is because there may be other components and additives that make the product non- vegan .
It is worth mentioning that to be vegan, a product must be free of any element of animal origin, as well as any means of exploitation or animal suffering. A good example of non-vegan vegetable drinks is that some can be enriched with vitamin D3 (which is of animal origin), which makes the product unfit for vegans and vegans.
For those looking for vegetable milk to maintain a veg diet , the ideal is to search for brands or products that have the vegan certification seal, or contact the company.
Does vegetable milk have calcium?
Some vegetable milks have enough quantities to supply calcium needs, as long as they are combined with good eating habits as a whole.
The most common products in the markets – such as coconut, soy, rice and oats – in general are fortified with the nutrient, which already helps to compose a good intake of the nutrient.
However, there are some less common versions that have naturally higher rates. In general, it is necessary to make these options at home, buying the base of fresh milk and beating them in a blender.
Among the options and the amount of calcium naturally present in 100g of the base food are:
- Almond milk (with 264mg in 100g);
- Sesame milk (with 975mg in 100g);
- Linseed milk (with 255mg in 100g);
- Pumpkin seed milk (with 78mg in 100g);
- Pumpkin seed milk (with 87mg in 100g).
Which is the most tasty?
Regarding the taste, it will depend a lot on the individual taste of the drinker. There are people who prefer a more neutral vegetable milk, which does not alter the flavors of coffee or vitamin, for example. Among the options are almond milk and rice, which are lighter.
Coconut, oat and soy milk tend to be more consistent and marked in flavor. Despite this, they can combine well with coffees, fruits and recipes in general – which makes them great options for replacing animal milk.
What is the most protein-rich vegetable milk?
Soy and rice milks contain good amounts of protein, with 7.1g and 6.9g of the nutrient in 250g portions of the drink, respectively. In addition, vegetable quinoa milks , sunflower seeds, nuts, sesame, chestnuts, almonds and peanuts are also options that have good protein values.
It is worth remembering that in order to achieve the ideal average protein intake, a varied and balanced menu is essential.
Read more: Quinoa: what is it?
How to make?
In general, making vegetable milk at home is very simple – and much cheaper. Base choose the base of the drink and beat with water in the blender. Some bases need to be soaked before going to the blender. Here’s how to prepare your drink at home:
For rice milk, just add 1 cup (about 200g) of cooked rice and 4 cups of water (about 960mL) in the blender and beat well.
After being very homogeneous, it is necessary to strain into a very thin cloth or sieve. Remember that the more cooked the rice, the thicker the milk will be.
Separate 1 cup of oats (about 220g) and soak in water for 30 minutes. Then drain the liquid and take the oats to the blender. Add 4 cups of water (about 960mL) and beat well until smooth.
Then, just strain through a cloth or fine sieve. It is worth remembering that, in general, oats contain gluten , which makes it unsuitable for people with allergies or celiac disease. A good option is to use gluten-free oats, which can be found in specific stores or even markets.
Sunflower seed milk
Separate 110g of sunflower seed and soak for 8 hours. Then drain and beat them with 1.5L of water in the blender. When the mixture is well homogeneous, pass through a sieve or clean cloth.
Coconut milk has the advantage of being super fast to make, so it doesn’t have to be soaked. To make, add 2 cups of freshly grated coconut (about 200g) and blend with 1 cup of filtered water (about 240mL).
When everything is smooth, just strain it into a very fine cloth or sieve. If you want a sweeter flavor, you can replace the water with coconut water.
Both cashew and Pará nuts can be used to make vegetable milk. To do this, leave 1 cup of raw chestnuts to soak for at least 4 hours, discard the water and take them to the blender with 3 cups of filtered water (about 700mL). Beat until you don’t see a whole piece of the chestnuts.
If the mixture becomes too thick, it is possible to add more water, leaving the texture more liquid.
For sesame milk, just soak 1 cup of beige or black sesame for at least 8 hours. Then, discard the water and mix it with 3 cups of filtered water (about 700mL) in the blender. It is possible to strain or, if you prefer a more consistent drink, consume it directly.
Put 1 cup of soy (about 240g) in a soak grain for about 8 hours. Throw the water away and rinse under running water. Then whisk the soy in a blender. Place in a saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, count 7 minutes and hang up. Wait to cool and strain.
For flaxseed milk, just separate 1/2 cup of brown or golden flaxseed (about 110g) and let it soak for 12 hours. Then, dispense the water and take the flaxseed to the blender. It will have a gelatinous consistency, so the recipe needs more water than most other vegetable milks.
Then, add 6 cups of filtered water (about 1.4L) and mix well. Beat in a fine cloth or sieve.
Why is not all lactose-free milk vegetable?
All vegetable milk is lactose-free (unless there are mixed dairy ingredients), but not all lactose-free milk or drink is vegetable. This is because these lacfree foods are produced for people with lactose intolerance, that is, who do not produce the enzyme lactase .
So, when producing or manufacturing a product with animal milk, the industries add the enzyme lactase to the composition, making intolerant people able to consume without feeling ill. That is, the food remains composed of milk of animal origin.
Ah, it is worth remembering that in addition to not being vegan, these lactose-free products are not suitable for people allergic to milk protein – lactose intolerance and allergy are different conditions.
Vegetable milks are good alternatives for those who cannot or do not want to eat lactose or animal products. Rich in nutrients, it is possible to include the drink in a healthy way, without other nutrients, such as proteins and calcium, being absent.
For this, it is essential to pay attention to the label, take care of food in general and always consult nutritionists! Want more tips for a healthy and balanced life? Follow the Healthy Minute!