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Which Milk Is Best?

Updated on December 19, 2017
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Occasionally Chris will have something to say about food preparation, but only if he has tried it and had good results.

Which Milk Is Best: soy, rice, almond, coconut and dairy

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There are more milks available for consumers than many of us might be aware of. Which one should we use for ourselves and our families? There is plenty of information out there about the various types of milk. In fact, we are buried in information, and while it is potentially useful, it is practically useless because it is not presented in a way that is helpful.

In this article I have formulated graphs which compare almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk and dairy milk. The comparisons deal with mineral and vitamin content, proteins, fats, carbohydrates and calories. You will be able to see how your milk of choice compares to the others. If you have been considering changing the type of milk you consume, here is reliable information with which to make that decision.

The Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals

The simple difference between vitamins and minerals is that vitamins are affected and changed by contact with air, water, heat and cold. Minerals on the other hand are relatively unaffected by these forces. The consequence is that it is easy to get minerals to our bodies because they are abundant and resistant to breaking down. Vitamins are more difficult to come by because they are constantly being changed by their environment. Even cooking and storage can destroy these vital elements to our health.

Other than that important difference, vitamins and minerals are needed in small amounts so that our bodies can efficiently carry out a multitude of functions. Though the amounts of vitamins and minerals needed by our bodies may be small, the consequences of not having them are severe. Sickness and death are the sure results of not having these valuable elements in our diets in sufficient amounts.

Milking a dairy cow on a farm circa 1935-1942.
Milking a dairy cow on a farm circa 1935-1942. | Source

The Roles of Vitamins and Minerals in Our Diet and Health

If we think of our bodies as a fort full of people that are defending themselves against an attacking enemy, we can better understand why our bodies need vitamins and minerals. The people in the fort would need materials for strengthening the walls, ammunition for defense and medical supplies to treat the wounded. Our bodies use vitamins and minerals to do these very things. They are building blocks in the defense against illness. They are used to repair damage when injury or illness occur. They are part of the body's arsenal which attacks the offending diseases and infections.

Keep in mind that almond, soy, coconut and rice milks are fortified with minerals and vitamins that are lacking in the raw product. In the case of fortified calcium, vitamin D is also added to increase calcium absorption.

Minerals in Almond, Soy, Rice, Coconut and Dairy Milk

Minerals (down)V.....Milk type(across)>
Almond (Blue Diamond; unsweetened)
Soy milk (original and vanilla, with added calcium, vit A & D)
Rice milk
Coconut milk (raw; expressed from raw meat)
Dairy milk (whole; 3.25% milkfat
 
 
Calcium
200mg 20%DV
299mg 30%DV
20mg 2%DV
38.4mg 4%DV
276mg 28%DV
 
 
Iron
0.4mg 2%DV
1mg 6%DV
0.2mg 1%DV
3.9mg 22%DV
0.1mg, 0%DV
 
 
Magnesium
16mg 4%DV
36.4mg 9%DV
-
88.8mg 22%DV
24.4mg 6%DV
 
 
Phosphorus
40mg 4%DV
105mg 10%DV
-
240mg 24%DV
222mg 22%DV
 
 
Potassium
-
296mg 8%DV
-
631mg 18%DV
349mg 10%DV
 
 
Sodium
180mg 8%DV
114 5%DV
86mg 4%DV
360mg 1%DV
97.6mg 4%DV
 
 
Zinc
-
0.6mg 4%DV
-
1.6mg 11%DV
1mg 7%DV
 
 
Copper
-
0.4mg 20%DV
-
0.6mg 32%DV
0.0mg 1%DV
 
 
Manganese
-
0.2mg 8%DV
-
2.2mg 110%DV
0.0mg 0%DV
 
 
Selenium
-
5.6mg 8%DV
-
14.9mcg 21%DV
9mcg 13%DV
 
 
Fluoride
-
-
-
-
-
 
 

Vitamins in Almond, Soy, Rice, Coconut and Dairy Milk

Vitamins(down)V....Milk type(across)>
Almond milk(Blue Diamond; unsweetened)
Soy milk (original and vanilla, with added calcium, vit A & D)
Rice milk
Coconut milk (raw; expressed from raw meat)
Dairy milk (whole; 3.25 milkfat)
Vitamin A
500IU 10%DV
450Iu 9%DV
0.0mg 0%DV
0.0mg 0%DV
249IU 5%DV
Vitamin C
0.0mg 0%DV
0.0mg 0%DV
1.2mg 2%DV
6.7mg 11%DV
0.0mg 0%DV
Vitamin D
100IU 25%DV
105IU 26%DV
-
-
97.6IU 24%DV
Vitamin E
10mg 50%DV
0.3mg 1%DV
-
0.4mg 2%DV
0.1 1%DV
Vitamin K
-
7.3mcg 9%DV
-
0.2mcg 0%DV
0.5mcg 1%DV
Thiamine
-
0.1mg 5%DV
-
0.1mg 4%DV
0.1mg 7%DV
Riboflavin
-
0.4mg 26%DV
-
0.0mg 0%DV
0.4mg 26%DV
Niacin
-
1mg 5%DV
-
1.8mg 9%DV
0.3mg 1%DV
Vitamin B6
-
0.1mg 4%DV
-
0.1mg 4%DV
0.1mg 4%DV
Folate
-
21.9mcg 5%DV
-
38.4mcg 10%DV
12.2mcg 3%DV
Vitamine B12
-
2.1mcg 34%DV
-
0.0mg 0%DV
1.1mcg 18%DV
Pantothenic acid
-
0.3mg 3%DV
-
0.4mg 4%DV
0.9mg 9%DV
Choline
-
57.3mg
-
20.4mg
34.9mg
Betaine
-
1.9mg
-
-
1.5mg
Green Almonds, photographed on the Peñon d'Ifac, Calpe, Spain.
Green Almonds, photographed on the Peñon d'Ifac, Calpe, Spain. | Source

Protein and Our Health

When we speak of dietary protein, we are actually referring to amino acids which the body assembles into proteins. These proteins then are used in building new cells, bone marrow, bones, muscle and in many other bodily functions. There are twenty-one amino acids. The body does not have a way of storing these vital elements. Either the body uses the amino acids on hand, or they are excreted through urine. For this reason, it is important that all twenty-one amino acids be consumed, ideally, on a daily basis.

When we eat meat, we are taking in all twenty-one amino acids. When we eat one kind of vegetable, not all twenty-one amino acids are present. For this reason, vegetarians and vegans need to eat a variety of vegetables on a daily basis so that all the amino acids are taken in. This is not a difficult thing to do. For example, beans are nearly a complete protein. They are missing only one amino acid. Rice has that one amino acid in addition to others. By combining rice and beans, all twenty-one amino acids are consumed. The rice and beans do not need to be eaten together, but they should be eaten in the same day. Adults need .36 grams of protein per pound of weight per day. Children and teens need slightly more as do athletes.

As you study the following chart, keep in mind that dairy milk and soy are complete proteins, in other words, they contain all twenty-one amino acids. The other types of milk in the chart are not complete. But with a diet that includes a variety of vegetables and/or meat, the body can synthesize complete proteins with no problem.

Protein, Carbohydrates and Calories in Almond, Soy, Rice, Coconut and Dairy Milk

Proteins, Carbs, Calories(down)V....Milk type(across)>
Almond milk(Blue Diamond; unsweetened)
Soy milk (original and vanilla, with added calcium, vit A & D)
Rice milk
Coconut milk (raw; expressed from raw meat)
Dairy milk (whole; 3.25 milkfat)
Protein
1g 2%DV
6.3g
0
5.5g 11%DV
7.9g 16%DV
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total carbohydrates
2g 1%DV
12g 4%DV
24.8g 8%DV
13.3g 4%DV
12.8g 4%DV
Dietary fiber
1g 4%DV
0.5g 2%DV
0.4g 2%DV
5.3g 21%DV
0.0g 0%DV
Starch
-
-
-
-
0.0g
Sugars
0.0g
8.9g
0
8g
12.8g
-
 
 
 
 
 
Calories from carbohydrates
6
47.1
102
54.2
43.6
Calories from fat
30
32.1
18
479
71.4
Calories from protein
4
25.3
0
19.1
31.4
Calories from alcohol
-
-
-
-
-
Total calories
40
105
120
552
146
Louisiana rice fields, circa 1928
Louisiana rice fields, circa 1928 | Source

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Fat and Fatty Acids and Our Health

While looking at the chart below about fats and fatty acids, keep in mind that conventional wisdom says that mono and polyunsaturated fats, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids all are good fats and promote a healthy body. Saturated fats and trans fats are the ones to avoid.

Among other things, the "good" fats are used by the body to promote a healthy heart, stabilize blood sugar and assist in blood coagulation.

Fats and Fatty Acids in Almond, Soy, Rice, Coconut and Dairy Milk

Fats/fatty acids(down)V......Milk type(across)>
Almond
Soy
Rice
Coconut
Dairy
Total fat
3g 5%DV
3.6g 5%DV
2g 3%DV
57.2 g 88%DV
7.9g 12%DV
Saturated fat
-
0.5g 2%DV
0.1g 0%DV
50.7g 254%DV
4.6g 23%DV
Monounsaturated fat
-
0.9g
-
2.4g
2g
Polyunsaturated fat
-
2.1g
-
0.6g
0.5g
Total trans fatty acids
-
-
0.3g
-
-
Total trans-monoenoic fatty acids
-
-
-
-
-
Total Omega-3 fatty acids
-
182mg
-
-
183mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids
-
1419mg
-
626mg
293mg
 
 
 
 
 
 

The options seem to be growing and the decision seems to be more confusing. But now you have information, all in one place, that you can use to make sound decisions for your own health and the health of your family.

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