So, as a joyous follow up on my previous article on why to avoid dairy (or at least the rubbish kind) I thought I would provide you with some alternatives. This is for those whom dairy results give negative feedback, or just want to avoid it altogether for a while and see what happens. Here are the 4 alternatives to dairy you need in your life.
Probably the most obvious alternative to dairy is soy milk. Soy milk has been shown to effect cholesterol levels in the blood, specifically soy milk can reduce the LDL (bad) and increase the HDL (good) cholesterol, which is of particular importance to those with a history of heart disease in their family. It also contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which generally improve the health and resilience of your blood vessels. It also has a lower sugar content to that of dairy products which can promote weight loss and maintenance.
Soy milk is a particularly good choice for post menopausal women, as this is when a women’s oestrogen production significantly drops. This can leave them vulnerable to depression, anxiety and mood swings as well as being at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity related problems. Phytoestrogen in soy is a great oestrogen replacement, and a regular intake of soy milk can help alleviate post menopausal symptoms.
Coconut milk contains medium chain triglycerides, which is a type of dietary fat that are healthy, and good for you fats. Fats such as this are imperative to weight loss as much recent research suggests, low fat diets are not sustainable and can actually be causing you to gain weight rather than lose it.
These fats also help to release the chemicals to your brain that create a feeling of satiety, so using coconut milk as an alternative to dairy in your morning coffee could be much more beneficial to your health journey than you think.
The status of these MCTs are perfect for weight loss as it is easy for your body to burn them as fuel. Also, they don’t require bile for digestion and are directly transferred over to the liver.
The medium chain fatty acids in coconut milk are also contributors to a healthy heart, killing the organisms that contribute to plaque formations in your arteries. They also can improve hair and skin health when eaten, as they are natural antiseptics and moisturisers.
However, all the benefits of coconut milk can be outweighed by the negative impact BPA can cause. BPA is found in many tinned foods (including coconut milk) so it is best to try and purchase a brand of coconut milk known not to have BPA in their containers, such as Native Forest.
You can also make your own coconut milk at home, and it’s pretty easy (check out this video). Or purchase some coconut cream and mix it with a little water to make your own milk.
There are some negatives to coconut milk, as explained here by Chris Kresser, so it is important to know all of your options. Coconut milk, oil and cream are popular for some damn good reasons, but there are those who still need to be wary as to which coconut products they choose to consume. People with IBS, GERD etc, and women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or are breastfeeding, should avoid tinned coconut milk due to the possibility of BPA and guar gum consumption.
Alternatively, you can get all the benefits of the medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil, a fantastic alternative to dairy. It is now classed as a ‘superfood’ due to its health benefits and the fact that people are now realising that saturated fat is in fact not the devil reincarnate.
Again, it’s those MCTs in coconut oil that are metabolized so efficiently in your body and are such a quick and beneficial energy source. They increase energy expenditure compared to their long chain counterparts (1), which increases the ability to sustain a healthy diet. It is also a natural antiseptic, known to kill numerous different harmful pathogens due to its lauric acid content.
Coconut oil is also used as part of a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat), which is now extremely popular in the treatment of numerous disorders and diseases, particularly drug resistant epilepsy in children (2). It is also proven to improve the good levels of cholesterol and reduce the total and LDL cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
The benefits of coconut oil can go on and on. But the important thing to know is that it is good for you, whether you are taking dairy out of your diet or not. However, when purchasing coconut oil be aware to get the virgin, organic coconut oil as opposed the refined stuff. There are loads of these alternatives to dairy available through Amazon, all health stores and most supermarkets.
There are alternatives for those who are not partial to the flavour of coconut. Nut milks are everywhere and are a great alternative to dairy. It’s basically a case of choose a nut of your choice and there will be a milk available. However, it is cheaper and pretty easy to make your own nut milk at home! (How to do that here)
One of the staple nut milks is almond milk and there are many different benefits to this dairy alternative. Not only is it a lower calorie alternative to even skimmed milk, at just 60 calories per cup, it’s low in sodium and high in healthy omega fatty acids. Although almond milk doesn’t contain as much calcium as dairy it still provides 30% of your RDA per cup, with 25% of your RDA of vitamin D.
Calcium isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to consuming dairy, there are many other nutritional factors to consider when choosing a dairy alternative. If you are concerned about your calcium intake then you can always take supplementation (but I’m sure you won’t be missing out).
Almond milk is another great natural moisturiser when ingested due to it’s high level of vitamin E, antioxidant properties. It is always supremely low carb so has barely any impact on your blood sugar levels, something of particular importance to those suffering from diabetes.
It’s easy on your digestion, contains no lactose and tastes flipping fantastic. So unless you have a nut allergy, nut milks are a great alternative to dairy.
So whether you are making a personal choice to avoid dairy and find some great tasting alternatives to dairy, or need to find another source for health reasons there are plenty out there to choose from, and these are just four of my favourites, and the most popular. It is drummed into us from an early age that we need dairy in our diets and are not educated into the alternatives. But we don’t, so try out these new ones and let me know which one is your favorite.
Image © Leeser via Canva.com