Which milk should I drink? Let’s Talk Full Cream, Skim, A2, Almond, Soy, Coconut, Rice, and Oat.

There has been a lot of hype regarding types of milk in recent years and is by far one of the most asked questions I get and one of the biggest myths I like to bust. I shudder internally when my clients say to me that the don’t drink low fat milk because it has a lot of added sugar. This is a common misconception; no sugar is added to lite or skim milk when the fat is removed however there is slightly more of the naturally occurring sugar lactose and all the other milk components due to the absence of fat making up the volume. The difference is roughly 1g more sugar per serve which is minimal and not of huge consequence, in fact also consider that there will be slightly more calcium and protein too for the same volume of milk when the fat content is reduced.

For general health if tolerated well I usually recommend cow’s milk due to the naturally occurring calcium, vitamin D, protein and carbohydrate content, not to mention the cheaper price point. If a client is aiming for weight loss, I recommend a reduced fat cow’s milk such as lite or skim due to the lower energy content remembering that in weight loss, we are aiming to consume less energy. However, if a client only has a splash in tea or coffee it is unlikely to make a significant so choose whatever milk makes your heart sing!

I hear you ask, what if I have lactose intolerance? Then I recommend opting for lactose free cow’s milk which is not lactose free at all but is fortified with the digestive enzyme “lactase” that will allow you to digest the milk more easily. It is easily accessible and contains all the same nutrients as regular cow’s milk. If this milk is not available to you, soy, almond, oat, rice and coconut milk are also lactose free however A2 milk is not lactose free.

For vegetarians and vegans and those with diagnosed cow’s milk protein allergy, the aforementioned plant-based “milks” or nut juices as I like to call them are a suitable option. Soy or almond milk are my most recommended of these choices. Purchasing quality brands that have been fortified with calcium and vitamin D is vital as these milks do not naturally contain these nutrients. Almond milk is low in kilojoules or energy so often a preferred choice for those seeking weight loss. Oat milk and rice milk are suitable but are of higher glycaemic index meaning they will raise your blood glucose levels more rapidly and not give you a sustained form of energy. Coconut milk should be used in small amounts only due to its high saturated fat content which can be of issue for heart health.

Phytoestrogen’s in soymilk get mentioned occasionally and we likely could have a whole blog post attributed to this topic. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring in soymilk and are capable of exerting oestrogen-like effects which have been studied in relation to breast cancer risk, increased femininity in men and thyroid conditions. Current studies show that the typical amount of soymilk consumed in western diets is safe and beneficial for most people.

A2 milk is not a milk that I regularly recommend as 30% of the adult population are lactose intolerant so it is a first point of call when adults have digestive issues related to milk. However, smaller studies, often sponsored by the A2 milk company report improved milk digestion when swapping over to A2 milk which does not contain the A1 amino acid. It is safe to trial this milk if you have trouble digesting milk and it may cause symptom relief however it is not often available in café’s and commercial settings. Overall, Cow’s milk is my recommended choice and reduced fat cow’s milk if you are aiming for weight loss.

Written By: Caitlin Mannion