While there are pluses and minuses to every variety of milk-moustache, dietitian and spokeswoman for the Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA) Melanie McGrice still recommends two and a half serves of dairy a day.
Cow milk has a rich nutrient profile and the serving suggestion provides the recommended daily intake of calcium, she says.
There are other sources of calcium, but to get enough “people need to eat very, very large volumes of these foods”, she says, like five cups of cooked broccoli or four tablespoons of tahini (which has the equivalent kilojoules to a bottle of wine).
Regardless of which option you choose, here’s the juice on your milk:
It has a wide range of nutrients and is high in calcium, magnesium and phosphate, McGrice explains. It is also an excellent source of protein and vitamins D and K.
Recent studies have suggested that full-fat milk is as good, if not better, than skim. But, while reduced-fat milk is higher in lactose (milk sugar) than full fat it is also higher in protein and lower in fat and calories, so is still the DAA’s recommended option.
As for the ethically minded, organic dairy products – using sustainable practices and made without pesticides or antibiotics – are a good option.
Cons: A poor choice for the lactose-intolerant and high in saturated fat.
“This is a really good choice,” McGrice says. “It’s naturally high in calcium and tends to be lower in fat than cow’s milk.”
It also has a wide range of nutrients, including essential amino acids, zinc and magnesium and is easier for some people to digest.
Cons: Goat milk also contains lactose, it can be hard to find and its distinctive saltier taste is displeasing to some and not ideal in your latte.
It’s a great tasting alternative in coffee and has the highest naturally occurring calcium of the plant-based milk substitutes.
Soy has proven effective in lowering cholesterol, is also lactose-free, low in saturated fat and contains isoflavones, an antioxidant that can be beneficial for women going through menopause, McGrice says.
Cons: It’s relatively high in fat and we need to watch out for additives in all milk-substitutes such as sugar.
As well as this, McGrice says that women who have had breast cancer and young children need to be careful about how much they have because of soy’s effect on oestrogen.
Oat milk is low in saturated fat, has no cholesterol and contains fibre. Its creamy taste makes it a good option for use in sweet treats.
Cons: Unlike the other options, it is not gluten-free, McGrice says. She also recommends looking for a brand fortified with calcium.
It is high in vitamins E and D, is lactose-free and has a rich, nutty flavour which makes it enjoyable to drink on its own. It also tends to have fewer calories than soy milk and contains no cholesterol. It’s a good substitute in coffee.
Cons: It is low in protein, calcium has to be artificially added and many brands contain added sugar, McGrice warns.
Rice milk is a great option for people with food intolerances, McGrice says. “It’s also really low in fat and doesn’t contain lactose,” she says. It’s best to use in sweet dishes.
Cons: Its thin consistency is a plus or minus depending on your tastes. It is also high in natural sugars but low in protein and other nutrients, unless they are added artificially.
It doesn’t contain lactose, has fats that are easier to digest than cow milk and many love the rich, creamy, slightly sweet taste. It is also low in cholesterol. It’s a good alternative for sweet and savoury cooking.
Cons: It is high in saturated fat and low in calcium and protein.