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The Athletic Club

of Overland Park
11 Oct 2016

Diet and Lifestyle Trends – Plant Based Milks

Hello friends! Welcome to our fourth and final week of this series, where we have explored some very interesting, informative and valuable health trends. I don’t know about you all, but I have personally learned quite a bit. As someone who tries to eat healthy on a regular basis, I enjoy educating myself and sharing that information with others as much as I can.

This week I have decided to focus on plant based milks, one of the most popular trends out there, in my opinion. In the last few years, I have made it a goal of mine to become not just more animal friendly, but more healthy inside and out. This includes doing my best to cut dairy from my life. I have always been a big milk drinker, so switching from a cow based milk to a plant based option has been a bit of a tough transition. I found the thing I missed the most was the flavor, but after about 2 months I noticed that I no longer craved it. It has been a process, and I have come a long way from drinking a gallon of milk every few days and putting cheese on nearly everything.

There are so many options available these days including (but not limited to) Almond, Cashew, Coconut, Rice and Soy milks. I have tried several of these, and it has been a curious and refreshing experience for my taste buds. I thought it would be a good idea to educate all of you out there who may not know about these options; or maybe you have, and just have been apprehensive about trying them. Either way, this will help point you in the right direction and may open your world to some different and more flavorful alternatives!

Almond Milk
This milk was one of the first that I tried, after soy milk. I found that it has an interesting but distinct, almost smoky flavor that is not necessarily similar to the actual taste of almonds. As with both of the cashew and coconut milks, I did try two different versions and found that even though it is appetizing and enjoyable, it is not my personal favorite. I would recommend to any of you that are interested in making this modification in your life, to try ALL of these plant based milks; original and unsweetened. Give yourself the opportunity like I did, to understand what each one can offer and what your personal palette prefers. Everyone is different of course.

Loaded with numerous beneficial nutrients and low in calories and sodium, this appealing drink offers you loads of protein and fiber, and can also help boost your energy. Similar to rice milk, it also contains many important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc, among others. In addition, you can expect to contribute to your daily portions of vitamins B6, C and E. One of the more important benefits is that this milk has no cholesterol, which is important for the approximately 12.9% of the United States that has issues with this, according to cdc.gov, the Center for disease control website. In general, this is a good option to try that can be used for many things including baking and smoothies.

Cashew Milk
This particular milk has become my personal favorite. One of the things I like about it the most is that it has a thick and creamy texture like 2% or whole milk, which I used to enjoy drinking quite a bit. There is something about lighter milk to me that makes it feel like I am drinking water, so this was easy for me to appreciate. This milk is low in calories, sodium and sugar and drinking it can contribute to 50% of your daily Vitamin E requirement. It also contains no saturated fat and is good for your cholesterol! As well you can expect to magnify your daily calcium intake by more than half, versus dairy milk.

It does have a really nice sweet cashew flavor versus some of the others that don’t really taste like their counterparts. Between the original and unsweetened versions, I have found that I prefer the original, which does have a few more calories than the unsweetened, but is a bit easier to get used to when switching from cow’s milk. It hasn’t been around as long as some of the others, but is gaining momentum and is something definitely worth trying out.

Coconut Milk
Last but not least, we come to Coconut milk! Made from the wondrous plant that provides us not only a delicious milk, but also an equally delectable and inviting water and oil, that has many uses! Some of you are probably wondering, are coconut milk and water the same thing? The answer is no, however they are both packed full of good nutrients and benefits and so have some notable differences. This milk is low in sugar and calories and much like Almond milk, has many valuable minerals including copper, phosphorus, magnesium and iron (as well as a few others)!

It has also been known to keep your blood sugar low and help manage diabetes; it can help combat the symptoms of fatigue by offering electrolytes and can also alleviate constipation and promote healthy digestion. I believe one of the most important benefits to consuming this milk, is that it can improve the health of your heart by providing an anti-bacterial and protective fat called lauric acid. This fat can help improve cholesterol levels and keep your blood pressure low.

Coconut milk is the milk that comes from straining the meat of the actual coconut plant. It can come in several different options when you buy it in the store, and is a wonderful choice for those of you who have lactose, nut or soy allergies. This milk does not taste like the traditional coconut flavor you would expect, which is good news for people who do not typically like to eat coconut. It is a bit thinner in consistency than Almond and Cashew milk, and has a natural hint of sweetness. I wold compare it more to a 1% milk.

Overall there are many good options here, and you would be doing yourself and your health a favor just by making such a minor switch in your diet! I would highly recommend trying any of these and would love to hear feedback from any of you who might consider taking a chance on any of the suggestions I have made in the last few weeks. I love talking about health and nutrition, and spreading the word!

As always, thanks for joining me! Don’t forget to stay positive and LOVE YOUR LIFE!!

For more information, please feel free to visit any of these sites –

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/benefits-almond-milk.html

https://draxe.com/coconut-milk-nutrition/