It’s become a super food sensation and we’ve all tried (or even full-on converted to) an almond/soy or coconut milk in our coffee. Vegans and lactose intolerant individuals have been all over it for years, but actually, how much better is almond milk for us than normal milk?If you’ve got no other reason for drinking almond or soy milk than “I’ve heard it’s better for you”, you’ll find the following information helpful.

What’s actually in almond milk?
The truth is that almond milk is mostly water (despite the fact that a carton is anywhere between $4 – $6). There is only a handful of almonds per carton and therefore only a few almonds per glass. Sometimes, manufacturers add a touch of calcium or protein in a process called ‘fortification’.

Is it better for you?
Essentially, no. Milk has a great balance of lactose (natural sugar), calcium and protein, whereas almond milk is lacking on all. It’s better for you in terms of being lower in saturated fat and having less calories, but lite cow’s milk doesn’t have much saturated fat (compared to full cream) either. In most almond milks, there is only 130mg of calcium and 1.5g of protein per average glass. On the other hand, cow’s milk carries 300 mg of calcium and 8.5 grams of protein in the same serving size. My advice? If you’re not lactose intolerant, just stick with regular milk and have almond milk occasionally.

What should the vegans and lactose-free do?
If you’re fully cutting out dairy and animal products from your diet, then you need to keep a keen eye out for where you’re getting your calcium from. I suggest buying calcium fortified almond milk to keep up daily intake. What to look for? If you’re buying calcium fortified almond milk you want one with about 300 mg of calcium per serve. The daily calcium recommendations for adults is 800-1000mg per day for optimum bone health.

Is soy better?
Before you panic and switch to soy, know that it’s not too different to the nutritional content of almond milk. It still doesn’t have much calcium, so you will need to look for an alternative source if you’re only drinking soy. I suggest switching up your milks just as you would vegetables and fruit. If you’ve already got calcium in your diet and you want an afternoon smoothie with almond milk, that’s fine. If you’re not getting much protein because you’re vegan, then you might want to have a bit more soy milk in your diet as soybeans naturally have more protein.

What are my recommendations?
Don’t feel that you have to commit to one milk. Switching up between soy and almond milk is a great way to get the best of both worlds. My recommendation would be good old Cow’s milk. Choose low fat varieties for heart health.