Remember when going to the corner store for a bottle of milk was a relatively simple affair?
In addition to cow’s milk you can find goat’s milk, soy options and milk-like drinks made from nuts, as households move away from traditional milk towards alternatives for use in their drinks, cereal and cooking.
How do you know then which one is right for you?
Dairy is an important because it provides you with calcium that builds and maintains healthy bones and teeth. It contains vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
According to Dairy Australia, women over the age of 50 need four serves of dairy a day while men up to the age of 70 need 2.5 serves and those over 70 need 3.5 serves. But that doesn’t have to be just milk.
Check out the brief guide — of milks we tested — to help you choose the right milk for you.
Traditional cow’s milk
“Full cream milk has the highest percentage of fat in it — around 3.8 per cent on average,” according to dietician Sanchia Parker. For that reason it has a mild and creamy taste.
It’s rich in protein and a source of calcium. You can use it on your cereal, porridge, and if you like a good coffee, full cream milk is perfect for hot drinks.
With less fat, approximately 1.3-1.4 per cent, low fat milk has slightly less fat in it, which makes it a good option if you are looking to reduce how much saturated you’re having (especially if you are trying to keep your cholesterol levels down) or if you are watching your weight.
Skim milk naturally has the least amount of fat — roughly 0.15 per cent — and even though it looks watery it still has plenty of health benefits. Don’t be deceived by reports it has an increased sugar content either.
“It actually contains less sugars in total, most of which come from lactose, than full cream milk,” dietician and sports nutritionist Robbie Clarke told The Huffington Post.
Lactose-free cow’s milk
If you experience lactose intolerance then lactose-free milk has been filtered to remove the lactose and has had the lactase enzyme added. It has the same taste as cow’s milk and can be used in anything that you would use cow’s milk for.
Nutritionally, goat’s milk is similar to cow’s milk, but it offers very few of the negative side effects of drinking regular cow milk. It has a strong and very distinctive flavour — you might notice a sweetness followed by a salty undertone.
According to Dr Edward Group, goat’s milk is a healthier alternative, especially when it’s raw and organic. He says goats produce approximately 2 per cent of the global milk supply.
Soy-based foods can help manage your cholesterol levels, although you need 25g soy protein (that’s about four glasses of soy milk a day) to achieve this. Expect a nutty flavour. It is a great alternative in baking.
Another milk alternative with a nutty flavour is almond milk. This is a good one if you are avoiding animal products. It’s fortified with calcium and vitamins D and B12. We enjoyed it in cereal, but avoided it with any hot drink, especially coffee. It’s not the most environmentally friendly milk, but if you do drink it choose an unsweetened variety for everyday use.