Study: Soy milk best alternative to traditional cow's milk

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Almond milk seems to be everywhere right now, as it is a popular alternative to traditional cow's milk. But is it the healthiest option?

A new study by scientists at McGill University in Canada, published this week in the Journal for Food Science and Technology, looked at the nutritional value between the four most common plant-based milks -- soy, almond, rice and coconut milk - to determine which has the best nutritional value after cow's milk. Researchers say soy milk is the clear winner.

After cow's milk, soy milk has the most balanced nutrition. It has a lower amount of calories (95), and offers 4.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrates and 330 milligrams of calcium. It is also known to have phytonutrients known as isoflavones, which have cancer-fighting properties. However, not everyone is a fan of soy milk because it can have a "beany flavor."

Almond milk is a popular choice right now because of its low calorie count (35) and has a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids that can help with weight loss or management as well as lowering LDL or bad cholesterol levels. But it lacks other basic nutrients, only offering 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrates and 330 milligrams of calcium.

Rice milk has a sweet taste and can be an option for people with allergies to soybeans and almonds. But it comes with a higher calorie count (130) and little nutrition (2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 315 milligrams of calcium).

Coconut milk has few calories (45) but most of those are from fat (4.25 grams). It offers has no protein (0 grams), little carbohydrates (1 gram) and is low in calcium (220 milligrams). It has been shown to reduce levels of LDL or bad cholesterol.

Cow's milk is still the most nutritious milk option, with 9.05 grams of fat, 8.11 grams of protein, 11.5 grams of carbohydrates and 294.2 milligrams of calcium. But it has a high calorie count (158) which is one reason people often turn to these plant-based alternatives, along with people with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.

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