By Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RDN, CDN

Years ago when we needed milk we just went to the store and picked it up. Over the years the number of milk choices has increased dramatically. Almond, coconut, and soy are just a few options that have flooded the dairy aisle; however these are actually dairy-free.

Numerous choices, combined with marketing messages, make it difficult to decide which milk is right for us. Each product may have certain properties that fit our unique needs or we may just prefer one type over another.

Almond milk may be a good option for those who are lactose intolerant or choose to avoid dairy. Almond milk is low in protein, with only 1 gram per cup, but it’s high in nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E and antioxidants. An 8 oz. cup of unsweetened almond milk provides 30 calories, 0 carbs and sugars, and meets 45% of our calcium needs.

Coconut milk “beverage” contains no protein and less calcium than cow’s milk. Coconut milk is naturally high in saturated fat, but due to the specific type of fat it may not have the same negative cardiovascular effects. Choose an unsweetened coconut milk beverage, which provides 45 calories and 4.5 grams of fat per cup. Pure coconut milk is much higher in fat and calories.

Cow’s milk is considered a complete protein, because it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. An 8 oz. cup of 1% milk provides 110 calories and 8 grams of protein, plus vitamins B12 and D. It’s also high in calcium, meeting 30% of the daily recommended intake per cup. Whole milk is higher in saturated fat, so opt for fat-free or 1% versions.

Rice milk may be a good choice for those with multiple food allergies or those avoiding lactose or dairy. Rice milk is not a good source of protein or calcium and is high in carbohydrates. One 8 oz. cup of unsweetened rice milk has 45 calories, 0 protein, and 26 grams of carbs.

Soy milk is a good source of complete protein, similar to cow’s milk. It’s also a good source of B vitamins and is low in saturated fat. One 8 oz. cup of unsweetened soy milk provides 80 calories and 7 grams of protein.

Now when asked if you “got milk?” you will be able to say “yes” and understand your choice.




Daphne Baldwin Kornrich has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for the past 30 years, working in a wide variety of clinical and outpatient settings.  Daphne currently specializes in Bariatrics and Weight Management.