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How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?

Abstract

Due to the issues like lactose intolerance and milk allergy arising from the consumption of cow’s milk, there has been an increased demand in the plant based alternative milks around the world. Food industry has addressed these demands by introducing various milk beverages which are promoted as alternatives coming from plant sources which include almond milk and soy milk. Though they are popularly advertised as healthy and wholesome, little research has been done in understanding the nutritional implications of consuming these milk beverages in short term and long term. Further, consumers associate these alternatives to be a direct substitute of cow’s milk which might not be true in all cases. This review tries to address the issue by outlining the differences between cow’s milk and commercially available alternative milks in terms of their nutrient content. Though various plant based alternate milks have been studied, only the four most consumed milk beverages are presented in this review which are consumed widely around the world. A complete nutritional outline and the corresponding health benefits of consuming these plant based milk beverages have been discussed in detail which could help the consumers make an informed decision.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

DRI:

Dietary Reference Intakes

EAR:

Estimated Average Requirements

HDL:

High-density lipoprotein

LDL:

Low-density lipoprotein

MUFA:

Monounsaturated fatty acids

PUFA:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

USDA:

United States Department of Agriculture

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Acknowledgement

The authors are grateful to the discovery grant provided by NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) as financial support for the research program.

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Correspondence to Sai Kranthi Vanga.

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Vanga, S.K., Raghavan, V. How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?. J Food Sci Technol 55, 10–20 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-017-2915-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-017-2915-y

Keywords

  • Milk beverages
  • Nutrition
  • Plant based alternative milks
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk