Dairy Alternatives Showdown: Almond Milk and Cashew Milk vs. Dairy Milk
Dairy Alternatives Showdown: Almond Milk and Cashew Milk vs. Dairy Milk
Milk tends to show up in nearly every diet. From breakfast cereal to coffee to main course and dessert recipes, there are so many different uses for milk.
While cow’s milk has been the standard milk product for many generations, an increasing number of people don’t include it in their diets. Whether you’re lactose intolerant or choose to eat a plant-based diet for health or ethical reasons, you may opt for a milk alternative over traditional cow’s milk.
Before you choose between dairy milk and alternatives like almond milk or cashew milk, it’s important to educate yourself on the differences between these options and which might work better for your preferences and goals.
Take a closer look at dairy milk and milk alternatives so that you can make an informed decision the next time you visit your favorite grocery store, coffee shop, or juice bar.
Table of contents:
- Dairy Milk: History, Uses, Taste, and Nutrition
- Milk Alternatives: History, Uses, Taste, Nutrition
- Dairy vs. Nondairy: Compare and Contrast
- What Are the Benefits of Dairy Milk?
- What Are the Benefits of Almond Milk?
- What Are the Benefits of Cashew Milk?
- Dairy vs. Alternative Milks: The Bottom Line
- Boost Your Health Deliciously with Clean Juice
Dairy Milk: History, Uses, Taste, and Nutrition
The primary type of dairy milk consumed by residents of the U.S. and many other countries is cow’s milk, which cows produce naturally to feed their calves. Other types of animal milk, such as goat milk, are also popular in certain parts of the world, but cow’s milk is far more accessible and affordable in the U.S.
Humans first started drinking cow’s milk and turning it into other products like cheese, butter, and yogurt as early as 8,000 BCE.
While milk and other dairy products were originally only available from farmers, the invention of home refrigeration, along with the development of large-scale dairy production, made dairy products more accessible to people around the globe.
Over the past several generations, pasteurization techniques have evolved to ensure that milk is safe to drink. This beverage can be used in recipes, mixed in smoothies or other beverages, or simply enjoyed on its own.
Milk with a higher fat content tends to have a creamier, richer taste, while low-fat milk is thinner and closer to the consistency of water while still having a slightly sweet flavor.
Serving sizes of milk can vary, and the nutritional content of milk depends on the fat content of the milk. Whole milk is the standard in many places. One cup of whole milk has about 150 calories, 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and 12 grams of carbohydrates. It is also a good source of several vitamins and minerals.
Milk Alternatives: History, Uses, Taste, Nutrition
Though milk alternatives are now rising in popularity, nondairy milk is not a new concept. In fact, early versions of soy milk were present in the Chinese diet as early as the 1300s, and almond milk has been made in the Middle East since the 1200s.
Multiple types of milk alternatives offer different flavor profiles and nutritional values. Various production methods are used to create alternative dairy-free milk, depending on the main ingredient. Food coloring, sweeteners, or thickening agents may be added to emulate the taste, texture, and appearance of dairy milk.
Some of the most common milk alternatives used today are almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, oat milk, and coconut milk, although many more are available at health food stores and some major grocers.
Nondairy milk can be used in many of the same ways that dairy milk can. This alternative is often consumed by lactose-intolerant people, vegans, or those who simply prefer the taste or nutritional profile of alternative milk products.
Many nondairy milk companies offer versions of their product with or without added sweeteners. This variety allows you to make a choice depending on your preference.
While milk alternatives with added sugar are likely to have a sweeter taste and thicker texture, unsweetened nondairy milks may still have a lightly sweet flavor and are closer in texture to low-fat or nonfat dairy milk.
Dairy vs. Nondairy: Compare and Contrast
Now that you understand a bit more about the history of milk and milk alternatives and what they can be used for, it’s important to know the specific benefits of each option before making decisions about your diet.
Take a closer look at the benefits and potential drawbacks of dairy milk and two of the most popular dairy alternatives: almond milk and cashew milk.
What Are the Benefits of Dairy Milk?
Dairy milk has been a mainstay in the standard American diet, as well as the diets of people in many cultures around the world, and for good reason. A serving of cow’s milk is rich in several vitamins and minerals, including calcium and B vitamins. There are a few more key benefits that dairy milk offers over alternatives.
Contains Complete Proteins
Since dairy milk is an animal product, it contains a specific combination of proteins and vitamins that make it a complete protein. This means that a serving of dairy milk can contribute more to your daily protein intake than most alternatives without supplementation, which helps keep you feeling full throughout your day.
Unique Creamy Texture
Though many dairy alternatives attempt to mimic the texture of milk or cream with added thickeners and sweeteners, all of the components of dairy milk combine to give it a thick, rich texture that mixes well with a variety of beverages and recipes.
Some coffee lovers prefer dairy milk because its natural sugars and fat content allow it to create creamy and delicious lattes and cappuccinos that are typically thicker in consistency than drinks made with plant-based milk.
Cheaper and More Accessible
As dairy alternatives become more commonplace, it’s easier to find them in standard grocery stores around the world at reasonable price points. However, dairy milk is still more accessible than its alternatives and generally more affordable, especially when compared to milk alternatives made with more expensive ingredients.
Are There Any Drawbacks of Dairy Milk?
Consumers should be aware of a few downsides to dairy milk. Whole milk and other full-fat dairy products can easily cause a person to overconsume fats and calories if they aren’t careful with their portion sizing.
Some people might try to avoid the high fat content found in whole milk by drinking low-fat or nonfat milk. However, these products are often high in sugar, which could lead to excessive carbohydrate consumption.
There are also many people who have difficulty digesting lactose, which is the primary sugar found in dairy milk. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Additionally, environmentally conscious consumers should be aware that the production of dairy milk uses more resources than the vast majority of milk alternatives, including almond milk and cashew milk.
What Are the Benefits of Almond Milk?
People who avoid dairy for dietary or ethical reasons have likely tried almond milk, as it is one of the most common dairy alternatives. Even if you regularly drink almond milk, you may not be aware of the specific benefits and drawbacks of this product.
In general, almond milk products are lower in calories than dairy milk. However, this is only true for unsweetened almond milk, as sweetened varieties can rival the calorie counts of dairy milk per serving.
Healthier Source of Fats
Dairy milk is a great source of healthy fats, but it also naturally contains saturated fats that could contribute to high cholesterol, heart issues, or weight management problems. Almond milk provides healthy amounts of unsaturated fats, which help keep your body healthy without overloading it with fat. It’s a good addition to an acai bowl, like our peanut butter bowl for example, as it balances the proteins and fats found in peanut butter.
Perfect for Vegan or Dairy-Free Diets
As a dairy-free or vegan eater, any nutritional and textural benefits of dairy milk are irrelevant if you simply can’t consume it. That’s why almond milk, or a smoothie with almond milk, is a great choice for people who can’t or choose not to consume milk, as well as people who can drink milk but want to try an alternative option.
Additionally, if you eat a plant-based diet due to your ethics and beliefs, you can feel good consuming almond milk, knowing that its production is generally better for the earth than dairy milk.
Are There Any Drawbacks of Almond Milk?
Almond milk tends to be more expensive than dairy milk, especially if you purchase branded products. Also, many almond milks contain thickening agents and sweeteners that can be linked to gastrointestinal issues.
Additionally, the differences in ingredients between almond milk and dairy milk can create unexpected reactions when baking or cooking, so almond milk is not a perfect substitute for dairy milk in some recipes.
Since almond milk is made from almonds, it’s not a suitable option for people with almond allergies. Other types of milk, such as cashew milk or oat milk, can be an alternative.
What Are the Benefits of Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is another dairy milk alternative that offers distinct benefits for consumers. Though other dairy alternatives like almond milk and soy milk have historically been more popular options, cashew milk’s popularity is on the rise, and it is becoming more accessible throughout the world.
Similar Texture to Dairy
One of the biggest downsides to milk alternatives is the fact that nondairy milk simply doesn’t have the same naturally creamy texture as dairy milk. However, since cashew nuts are higher in fat than many of the other ingredients used to create dairy alternatives, cashew milk is one of the creamiest nondairy milk options on the market today–one of the many reasons it works so well in our Cashew Milk Latte (a creamy organic version of coffee.)
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Though cashew milk isn’t naturally rich in protein and calcium like cow’s milk, it does contain high levels of unsaturated fats as well as minerals like magnesium and iron. Also, many cashew milk products are fortified with additional nutrients to make this milk a healthy and nutritious alternative to dairy.
Perfect Almond Milk Alternative for Vegan or Dairy-Free Diets
What if you follow a nondairy or vegan diet but aren’t a fan of the taste or texture of almond milk? Though almond milk is one of the most common plant-based milks, cashew milk provides a creamy, tasty alternative for those who don’t enjoy the texture of almond milk in their coffee, smoothies, or cereal.
Are There Any Drawbacks of Cashew Milk?
One of the primary drawbacks of cashew milk is that this product is still rising in popularity, which means it may not be readily available in some grocery stores, coffee shops, or smoothie and juice bars.
Like almond milk and other alternatives, a typical carton of cashew milk is likely more expensive than a carton of cow’s milk of the same size. Additionally, many cashew milk producers use the same types of thickening agents that almond milk producers do, which can cause gut health issues in some consumers.
As is the case with almond milk, since cashew milk is made from cashew nuts, it is not suitable for people with nut allergies. Individuals with nut allergies may need to avoid cashew milk and other nut milk alternatives.
Dairy vs. Alternative Milks: The Bottom Line
So which type of milk should you choose to enjoy in your morning coffee, smoothie, or acai bowl? There are many benefits of including dairy milk, almond milk, or cashew milk in your diet, and each type of milk product has a few specific drawbacks that may make you consider an alternative.
Here’s the bottom line: You should choose a type of milk based on your personal preference while also keeping any dietary restrictions in mind.
Dairy alternatives are all the rage today, but that doesn’t mean you have to swear off cow’s milk if you enjoy the taste and your body is able to digest it.
Alternatively, if you prefer plant-based foods for ethical reasons, you shouldn’t feel pressured to drink cow’s milk just because it’s more common.
Make the choice that works best for you, and keep in mind that all three milk products can be enjoyed in your diet if you prefer!
Boost Your Health Deliciously with Clean Juice
Whatever your milk preference might be, it’s important to keep good health, happiness, and longevity at the forefront of your choices. As you embark on your journey to a healthier diet, make sure you’re buying products that are just as good for your body as they are tasty and satisfying.
With fresh pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls, sandwiches, and more from Clean Juice, you’ll never have to sacrifice taste for health again. Enjoy all of your favorite fresh and delicious flavors while maintaining a healthy diet with ease.
We are one of the only places that cold-presses cashew milk! Grab a delicious bottle from our coolers today.
You can get all of your favorite Clean Juice meals delivered right to your door for added convenience and ease. Contact Clean Juice and start your order today!
Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. Consult your doctor before using any health treatment, including natural remedies, and tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications.
If you’re unsure whether dairy milk or milk alternatives would be a healthy addition to your wellness routine, ask your doctor.