Nut milks have become somewhat of a norm in recent times, starting in health food and specialty stores and slowly seeping into regular cafes and restaurants as an alternative to your classic cows’ milk. While the lives of those who are lactose intolerant have become a lot easier, the rest of us may be left wondering WHY these dairy-free milks have become so popular and whether we should be making the switch from regular milk.
Other than intolerances and allergies to lactose/dairy, there are some other important reasons why you might choose to switch to dairy-free milk:
Agriculture and the Environment
With increasing concern around the effects that agriculture has on our environment, the switch from cows’ milk to nut milk may be an environmental choice. Some dairy farming practices have a significant impact on the environment and there is no doubt that consuming large amounts of dairy is not a sustainable way of living. For example, it takes 880 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of cows’ milk and this wasteful water consumption is just one part of the link between agriculture and the welfare of the planet.
Pesticides & Other Chemicals
When you are consuming animal-based products, you are essentially ingesting whatever the animal has ingested. If pesticides and other chemicals have been used on the crops that are feeding these cows then you will be ingesting these in your dairy foods. Nut milk is a wonderful dairy-free milk alternative to avoid these extra pesticides and chemicals in the diet, however if you want to stick with dairy milk you can also opt for organic, grass-fed cows, which are much less likely to have been exposed to pesticides, chemicals and other nasties.
Antibiotics & Hormones
Antibiotics are sometimes used to fight infections in dairy cows that may have been caused by overproduction of milk or general unkempt living conditions. These can be passed down into the milk we drink and may result in antibiotic resistance. Added hormones are also a concern, with some conventional dairy farms feeding growth hormones to cows as a means for stimulating milk production.
There are also some awesome health benefits associated with nut milks:
Promote a Healthy Heart
With no cholesterol or saturated fat in nut milks you can be sure you’re protecting your heart health when consuming these dairy-free milks. They are also low in sodium and high in healthy fats (such as omega-3s) to help regulate blood pressure and minimise your risk of heart disease.
Maintain Strong Bones
With a good amount of calcium and vitamin D, nut milk may help keep your bones strong and reduce your risk of bone-related disease, such as osteoporosis. In addition, these nutrients are great for boosting immunity and maintaining healthy teeth.
Support Muscle Strength & Recovery
With a good amount of protein and B vitamins, such as iron and riboflavin, nut milk is a great addition to your diet for both muscle growth AND muscle repair & recovery. Add it to your pre- or post-workout smoothie to maximise your muscle strengthening and for optimal recovery.
Great Choice for Those With Allergies
Many people have intolerances and even allergies to lactose, the sugar found in cows’ milk. Nut milks are a suitable alternative for those that have difficulty digesting lactose. Signs of an intolerance may be respiratory congestion, bloating or other digestive complaints.
When choosing a nut milk, as always it is key to read the ingredients! There are a number of ‘sweetened’ varieties available that contain refined sugar nasties. Opt for mainly nuts and water and if you like yours a little sweeter, make sure it is sweetened naturally.
There are many different nut milks that are simple to make at home or found on the shelves of specialty stores and supermarkets. What’s your go-to nut milk… Cashew, hazelnut, brazil nut, almond…? Let us know in the comments below xo