Cow Milk Vs. Plant Based Milk: Which One Is Healthier

Cow Milk Vs. Plant Based Milk: Which One Is Healthier

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Milk is packed with important nutrients and plays a prominent role in our diet. Nowadays, people are shifting towards plant-based milk instead of normal cow’s milk due to increasing health concerns such as lactose intolerance or lifestyle preferences like veganism.  But, does it have the same nutrient value like cow milk? Which one is better of the two?

In this regard, Sangeeta Tiwari, who is a Clinical Dietician, at Artemis Lite, NFC, New Delhi said, “Cow’s milk and plant-based milk are two popular options when it comes to choosing a dairy alternative. Each has its own set of nutritional benefits and considerations. Deciding which one is healthier is a complex decision that depends on factors like individual dietary preferences and needs.”

Nutritional Profile:

Talking about Cow’s Milk, Sangeeta Tiwari said, “Cow’s milk is often considered good for its rich nutrient content. It is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and high-quality protein. These nutrients are essential for bone health, muscle growth, and overall well-being. Cow’s milk also contains B vitamins, such as B12, which are essential for nerve function and red blood cell formation.”

To this, Aman Puri, who is the Founder of Steadfast Nutrition added, “Cow’s milk is packed with essential nutrients such as calcium, an important nutrient for bone mineralisation, potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, whey and casein protein for muscle development, and vitamins A, B12 and D. All these nutrients are not present collectively in plant-based milk and vary according to the source.”

Coming to plant-based milk, Sangeeta said, “Plant-based milks vary widely in their nutritional content depending on the source. Common options include almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk. Almond milk is low in calories but it is also low in protein, while soy milk is a good source of protein and often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Oat milk, made from oats, provides dietary fiber and is typically loaded with various vitamins and minerals.”

Adding, Aman Puri said, “Plant-based milk has its own merits, as it contains antioxidants and other essential bioactive components that help battle cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancer, and other chronic diseases.”

Lactose Intolerance and Allergies:

Lactose intolerance is a common condition where individuals have difficulty in digesting lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk. For those with lactose intolerance, plant-based milk options like almond, soy, or lactose-free cow’s milk may be a more suitable choice, because they are naturally lactose-free.

“Cow’s milk allergies are another concern, especially in children. Plant-based milks are naturally free of the proteins found in cow’s milk that can be responsible for triggering allergic reactions. This makes plant-based milks a safer option for those with milk allergies,” said Sangeeta.

Caloric Content:

Discussing the calorie content, Sangeeta said, “Cow’s milk tends to be higher in calories in comparison to most plant-based milk alternatives. This can be advantageous for individuals who require extra calories for growth or energy. However, for those aiming to reduce their calorie intake, plant-based milk options like almond milk may be a more suitable choice.”

Environmental Impact:

One important factor in the cow’s milk vs. plant-based milk debate is the environmental impact.

On this, Sangeeta said, “The dairy industry has been associated with greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and land degradation. Plant-based milks, especially those made from crops like almonds or oats, tend to have a lower environmental footprint. In this parameter, choosing plant-based milk can be seen as a more eco-friendly option.”

Cholesterol And Saturated Fat:

In this regard, Sangeeta said that cow’s milk contains cholesterol and saturated fat, which are associated with heart disease when consumed in excess, while plant-based milks, especially those made from soy, almonds, or oats, are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making these options healthier for individuals who are concerned about their heart health.

Fortification:

According to Sangeeta, “Many plant-based milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals to match or exceed the nutritional content of cow’s milk.” This is especially important for those who rely on milk as a primary source of nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D. Thus, when choosing plant-based milk, it’s essential to check the label for fortifications to ensure that you’re getting the desired nutrients.

Dietary Preferences and Restrictions:

Plant-based milk is a go-to option for those following vegetarian, vegan, or lactose-free diets. It also a good choice for those who avoid dairy products for religious or ethical reasons. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, is not suitable for these dietary preferences and restrictions.

Price:

In this regard, Aman said, “Cow’s milk is a low-priced source of milk than plant-based milk. A healthy individual can include cow’s milk as per the dietary recommendation to fulfill daily nutritional needs.”

Thus, on concluding, Dr Sumitra Agarwal, who is the Director Artificial Eye Co, “The healthiness of cow’s milk versus plant-based milk varies based on individual nutritional needs, dietary preferences, and personal health conditions. Cow’s milk offers natural calcium, vitamin D, B12, protein, and other nutrients, but contains saturated fats and may trigger allergies or lactose intolerance in some. Plant-based milks, ranging from soy to almond, have diverse nutritional profiles, with some being high in added sugars or additives, while others are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Plant-based options cater to vegans and those with cow’s milk allergies, but the best choice depends on individual needs and preferences.”

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