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Too Many Choices in the Dairy Section?

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the amount of milk alternatives on the shelves these days? There are so many options it can seem like information overload. But fear not, most of these choices can be a great option, even when you are a person with type 2 diabetes.

Benefits of milk

Milk is an amazing source of calcium. Calcium helps keep our bones and teeth strong and healthy. When you do not consume enough calcium you are at risk for decreased bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis, bone breaks and fractures. Nowadays, many products are fortified with calcium to further help us meet our needs. Most milk alternatives on the shelves provide some calcium, if not as much as regular milk!

Oat milk

Oat milk is one of the newer milk alternatives available in stores today. With a creamy texture, this option has a mild flavor that goes well in coffee, on cereal and even on its own. Calories per cup of oat milk are comparable to skim cow’s milk at 90 per serving. The carbohydrate content is also similar with oat milk containing 14 grams per cup compared to the 12 grams in its skim milk counterpart.

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The biggest difference is that oat milk has a much lower protein content than regular milk with only 2 grams instead of 8. On the flip side, oat milk contains a small amount of dietary fiber (approximately 1 gram per cup) because it is made my soaking oats and then using the liquid. This small amount of fiber does provide some extra satiety even without that extra boost of protein from dairy milk and you may find that you are just as satisfied after drinking it as you would be with skim. Silk’s Oat Yeah ® version provides 45% of your daily calcium needs in a one cup serving which is very comparable to the 30% offered in dairy based milk.

Almond milk

Almond milk is made by blending almonds with water and removing any solid pieces. It comes in all kinds of flavors, from unsweetened to sweetened, chocolate to vanilla. Check the ingredients list or Nutrition Facts label to find whether or not it has added sugars. Almond milk provides 30 calories per cup, substantially less than its dairy or oat cousins. Depending on the flavor, it also contains only one gram of carbohydrate per serving and is therefore a great option when you have diabetes. Almond milk makes a great base for smoothies, a creamer for coffee and even in cereal. When reading your labels, also look for one that provides some calcium to help meet those daily needs. Not all almond milks (or milk alternatives) are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Other options

If there are other options in the dairy aisle that have piqued your interest, grab a container, and check out the nutrition facts label as well as the ingredients list. Key things to look for are:

  • Calories: Skim milk provides 80 calories per 1 cup
  • Carbohydrate: Skim milk provides 12 grams per 1 cup
  • Protein: Skim milk provides 8 grams per 1 cup
  • Calcium: Skim milk provides 30% of your daily needs in 1 cup

You can use this information to compare and contrast and decide which product you like best!

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