Among all the types of milks out there, soy milk is the best nutritionally, according to a team of researchers at McGill University in a new study.
Faced with the ever-growing popularity of plant-based milk drinks, and in the face of an increasingly diversified offer in grocery stores, researchers at the Université de Montréal have sorted out the data available in scientific studies to determine the qualities of the milks in questioned.
The advantage of making this comparison came from the fact that people with allergies or intolerant to lactose, present in cow’s milk, are numerous, and they look for alternatives, without really knowing the nutritional value of the plant milks they drink, explains the study’s supervisor, Vijaya Raghavan, a professor at McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Other people are allergic to soy or almonds, which makes it even more difficult, he notes.
The research team compared existing data on the four most popular types of plant milks in the world – almond, soy, rice and coconut, all unsweetened – with 3.25% whole cow’s milk.
Researchers say that cow’s milk remains the most nutritious of all, but soy milk comes in second best and is distinctly different from other vegetable drinks. The two key criteria for defining nutritional value were protein and calcium content, says Professor Raghavan.
Soymilk won because it has the most balanced nutritional profile, with lots of protein and phytonutrients that give this milk anti-cancer properties, the researchers note. They point out, however, that some people do not like the taste soy milk unlike other plant milks.
With regard to rice milk, the researchers are adamant: a sweet taste, a high carbohydrate content and a low nutritional value. However, this vegetable drink can meet the needs of people allergic to soy and almonds, they added.
Coconut milk contains few calories but no protein. It can, however, reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein — the bad cholesterol — associated with cardiovascular disease. It comes last in the standings, however, says Vijaya Raghavan.
As regards almond milk, researchers describe it as balanced, with a low calorie content, but advise that a food supplement is essential to obtain essential nutrients. However, almonds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that are believed to promote weight loss and management, and lower bad cholesterol, the researchers note.