Are plant-based drinks healthy?

Plant-based drinks are an excellent alternative to dairy products for people with intolerance. These days, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a plant-based drink to accompany our bowl of cereal: rice, hemp, coconut, soya or even oats will soon have replaced cow’s milk on the breakfast table!

What is lactose intolerance?

When a person’s body is not able to break down lactose properly, it is called lactose intoleranceintolerance. The symptoms of intolerance include flatulencelactose intolerance bloating as well as diarrhea. In fact, milk and all dairy products derived from it, such as ice cream, yoghurt or cheese, contain lactose. Once a person is lactose intolerant, their digestive system no longer produces or does not produce enough lactase: the enzyme that digests the milk sugar, or lactose. There is a difference between lactose allergy and lactose intolerance. In the case of an allergy, the immune system reacts to milk proteins. In the case of intolerance, it is the sugar that is the problem.

Let’s compare cow’s milk and almond milk

Cow’s milk

Whole milk is the richest of all. One cup of whole milk contains:

  • 150 calories
  • 8 grams of protein
  • 8 grams of fat
  • 12 grams of carbohydrates

In fact, whole milk is not processed, none of its components are removed. It is therefore rich in proteins, which are essential for the body to function properly, in calories as well as in vitamins and minerals. Today, it is possible to buy lactose-free cow’s milk, to the delight of people suffering fromintolerance. However, whole milk has some disadvantages:

  • It can be very high in calories
  • It is difficult to digest for people with intolerance
  • Some people do not agree with modern farming practices (ethical concerns)

Almond milk

Almond milk is made from ground almonds and filtered water. Then, depending on the brand, thickening agents, salt, sugar, flavourings or vitamins are added to the list of ingredients on the packaging. All this is done to improve the texture and preservation of the vegetable drink. Generally lower in calories than other vegetable drinks, almond milk does not contain saturated fat or lactose. However, it is composed of:

  • about 30 to 60 calories
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates (it depends on the brand, as some add sugar)

The almond plant drink is low in calories and naturally lactose-free. However, although almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk contains very little. In addition, the amount of water used to produce almonds has a significant ecological impact.

Alternatives to cow’s milk

If a person is lactose intolerant and still wants to drink cow’s milk, they can switch to so-called ‘easy-to-digest’ milk without lactose. This is because it has the same nutritional value as traditional milk. Some people are concerned about the presence of hormones or antibiotics in milk. Because of this concern, many prefer to consume organic, unpasteurised cow’s milk. Others choose to switch to plant-based milks. The most important thing when looking to replace dairy products with plant-based alternatives is to ensure that the nutritional quality of the product chosen is in line with the body’s current needs. Therefore, it is important tolearn to read the labels on the packaging of plant-based drinks. Indeed, manufacturers often enrich their beverages with flavourings, thickeners and, unfortunately, often with sugar. Finally, whatever substitute product you choose, you should consume it as part ofa healthy and balanced diet. In short, you should accompany your plant milk with fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, pulses and oilseeds. Source: Sources:

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