The Skinny on... Milk

Whether it's for lactose sensitivity, veganism or just plain curiosity, there are many reasons to think outside the cow when it comes to milk. Here are the ones you're most likely to see.

Milk alternatives

- Buttermilk
Made by introducing a special culture into lowfat or nonfat milk, thick, tangy buttermilk is widely used in baked goods, sauces and dressings.
- Goat’s milk
Rich and strongly flavoured, goat’s milk is the preferred milk in many parts of the world. With slightly less lactose and more protein and fat than cow’s, it’s considered more digestible, and many people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk do just fine with goat’s. Finding a lowfat version can be challenging, however.
- Sheep’s milk
Richer in fat and protein than either cow’s or goat’s milk, and more difficult to find fresh, sheep’s milk is often used for yogurt and cheeses like feta and pecorino.
- Soy beverages
The highest in protein and fibre of the nondairy milks, and also the easiest to find, soy beverages are another excellent option — look for nonfat, unsweetened varieties.
- Almond milk
Made by soaking raw nuts in water, then grinding and straining, almond milk is a fantastic nondairy option. Almonds are naturally high in both calcium and vitamin E, and unsweetened milk is surprisingly low in fat and calories.
- Coconut milk
Popular in Indian and Thai cooking, not to mention piña coladas, coconut milk can be very high in fat and calories. Be sure to buy a light variety.
- Rice milk
This is the weakest option from a nutritional standpoint — it’s relatively high in calories and carbohydrates and low in protein, and it can be difficult to find unsweetened. But it’s the least allergenic of all the options, so it’s helpful for those with sensitivities.
- Hemp and oat milk
Unlike all the other milks, hemp milk is an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but it’s low in protein. Oat milk, which has been popular for years in Western Europe, has only recently become available here. It’s recommended for oats' renowned cholesterol-lowering properties. Look for both in health-food stores.

Milk by the numbers PointsPlus™ values per cup
Whole dairy 4
Reduced-fat 3
Lowfat 3
Nonfat 2
Buttermilk 3
Goat’s 5
Sheep’s 7
Almond (unsweetened) 2
Coconut (light) 6
Rice 3
Soy (fat-free) 2