With half a supermarket aisle now being dedicated to long-life, dairy free milk alternatives, it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll find - and what you won’t find - in a healthy plant-based milk. By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine.
1) The Feature Ingredient as the First or Second Ingredient
Otherwise you’re spending money on an extremely watered down ‘nut’ milk, as ingredients are always listed in descending order. Take a popular, commercial brand of almond milk, where almonds are the third ingredient listed after water and cane sugar, comprising only 2.5% of the product.
Pure Harvest’s Activated Almond Milk is a much better option, containing up to four times the amount of almonds than other brands at the supermarket… Unlike other almond milk varieties, you can actually taste the almonds in this one – nutty and creamy, it enhances the flavour or any smoothie and is delicious poured on your muesli.
2) Natural Ingredients
It’s also worth reading the ingredients on the milk’s nutrition panel to check that they’re ones you recognise. And in the case of non-dairy milk, the shorter the ingredients list the better. Take Pure Harvest’s Coco Quench (my personal favourite): It’s made with filtered water, organic coconut milk, organic brown rice, organic sunflower oil and sea salt – that’s it.
A coconut milk from another brand however has more than double the amount of ingredients, many of which you wouldn’t keep in your pantry, for instance:
- Modified starch (1450) – numbered ingredients are a red flag, often indicative of artificial colours, flavours or preservatives
- Natural flavour – sounds healthy, but where does this ‘natural’ flavour come from? If the source of a natural flavour isn’t stated I’d be wary
- Evaporated cane juice – really a fancy term for sugar. Deceiving too, because we associate ‘cane juice’ as a natural product, which it may be, but this does not necessarily = healthy
3) No Added Sugar
Straight-up cow’s milk has no added sugar and nor should dairy free milk alternatives. However one cup of a popular brand of almond milk gives you more than two teaspoons of refined sugar.
Don’t want to be drinking sugar water disguised as dairy free milk? Again, check the ingredients to make sure that sugar hasn’t been snuck in. And remember that there’s more than one word for sugar. Some other terms for the sweet stuff that you’ll come across in non-dairy milks:
- Cane sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Agave syrup (this stuff used to be thought of as healthy, but is high in fructose)
If you like a little sweetness, go for Pure Harvest’s Rice or Oat Milk; These have no sugar added, yet have a light and sweet taste produced from nourishing whole brown rice or oats. Find out more about Pureharvest’s range of nutritious non-dairy milks: www.pureharvest.com.au