The days of cow’s milk being touted as the best source of calcium and other key nutrients are over. A seemingly endless variety of non-dairy milks now peppers the market, with each item made from different kinds of nuts, grains and legumes. The question is: Which non-dairy milk is best? While cruising down the non-dairy aisle, you’ve probably wondered which one tastes best, too.
To get some answers, we set up a blind taste-test among five of the most popular non-dairy milks. And we analyzed the nutrition data to figure out which non-dairy milk really is the healthiest.
Non-Dairy Milk Competitors
Left to right: Soy Dreams soy milk, Suzie’s quinoa milk, 365 Organics almond milk, So Delicious coconut milk and Pacific oat milk.
Non-Dairy Milk Blind Taste-Test Results
365 Organics almond milk took first place in the taste competition while Soy Dreams soy milk came in second place. Testers remarked that both brands had the best flavor and consistency of all the non-dairy milks tested.
Meanwhile, Suzie’s quinoa milk came in dead last, with testers saying it had a powdery texture and slightly unpleasant aftertaste. Pacific oat milk also received low marks as many testers found it was too sweet.
So Delicious coconut milk fell in the middle of the pack. Some testers enjoyed the tropical flavor, while others felt the coconut milk’s consistency was too thick.
How to Pick a Non-Dairy Milk
There are a few things to look out for when shopping for a non-dairy milk. Even if you decide to go with a certain type of non-dairy milk such as soy, the nutrition content can and will vary across the different brands of soy milk available.
Choose a non-dairy milk with at least 20% of the daily value for both calcium and vitamin D. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, also make sure your non-dairy milk has at least 20% of the daily value for vitamin B12. Each non-dairy milk is fortified differently, so looking out for these nutrients will ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Is Coconut Milk Healthy?
Coconut milk differs from other non-dairy milks in that it contains significantly more fat. So Delicious coconut milk contains 4.5 grams of fat per one cup serving, most of which is saturated fat.
In general, we consider saturated fats to be unhealthy. Coconut products are unique because they contain medium chain triglycerides, also known as MCTs. These are a type of saturated fat that are digested and absorbed differently than other saturated fats. Some studies have shown that MCTs promote weight loss and can rev up your metabolism. Meanwhile, other studies have been inconclusive or have shown that eating MCTs instead of other fats won’t make you lose more weight.
Based on the research available now, using coconut products with the intention of losing weight might not lead to the kind of results you want. However, coconut milk and oil are still a fine plant-based substitute for high-fat animal products like heavy cream and butter.
Of all the non-dairy milks tested, soy milk and almond milk offer the best taste and nutritional content.
Soy milk is a good choice if you’re looking for a non-dairy milk closest in composition to cow’s milk. It’s the only non-dairy milk that’s a good source of protein, with 7 grams per one cup serving.
Almond milk is a good choice if you already eat a lot of soy in your diet and are looking for a soy-free alternative. It’s also a good choice if you’re looking for a milk that’s low in calories. Almond milk is only 60 calories per one cup serving, the lightest calorie non-dairy milk tested.
Bobby is the community and social media manager at Zipongo. He has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.