I am all for organic, grass-fed, hormone-free milk in moderation if it works for your body. But did you know that at least 65% of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant? If you drink milk regularly or have adult acne, chronic bellyaches, or bloating, I recommend swapping cow’s milk for a non-dairy alternative.
Homemade dairy-free milk is the most ideal option because you can be sure that there are no unnecessary additives or harmful preservatives included in it, but sometimes, you want a quick option. If you purchase store-bought non-dairy milk, be sure it contains no added sweeteners or artificial flavorings. Check the nutrition label to make sure it is free of natural flavors, sweeteners, GMOs, carrageenan, and gums. Opt for the unsweetened version to avoid added sugars and look for milk with the shortest ingredient list.
I have pinpointed nine of the best unsweetened, non-dairy milks out there:
Almond milk is one of the most popular plant-based milk options. Although it is low in calories, it is packed full of important antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory nutrients such as mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, E, and A. Some almond milk even contains probiotics that are shown to improve digestion, detox, and beneficial bacteria growth in the gut. My choices for almond milk are:
Malk Organics Unsweetened Almond Milk
Malk is my number one choice for dairy-free milk.The ingredient list is short and easy to understand, including only 3 simple components: filtered water, organic sprouted almonds, and Himalayan salt. All of Malk’s products are cold-pressed, free of preservatives and thickeners, and organic meaning you are avoiding unnecessary ingredients that may cause gut irritation among other harmful side effects.
Three Trees Unsweetened Almond Milk
With a mission to source only the highest quality ingredients straight from nature, you can be sure that Three Trees’ almond milk is pure as well as free of any emulsifiers and gums, containing only 2 ingredients: filtered water and organic almonds!
Soy milk is the most nutritionally similar to cow’s milk. It contains sufficient levels of protein, as well as other important nutrients like manganese, selenium, copper, and magnesium. However, most soy products in the U.S. are sourced from genetically modified crops making it extremely important to choose organic. Soy can also affect hormone levels because it is a phytoestrogen, meaning it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. When purchasing soy milk, I recommend selecting milk with whole organic soybeans as the only ingredient aside from water whenever possible. Make sure your soy milk contains no “soy protein isolate” or “soy concentrate”. My choices for soy milk are:
Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Boxed Soy Beverage
With organic whole soybeans second on the ingredient list after filtered water, this product is minimally processed, GMO-free, and packed with 9 grams of protein per serving and 8 percent recommended daily value of iron. It is also one of the few clean soy milks free of carrageenan and gum fillers.
Eden Foods Unsweetened Soymilk
With whole soybean second on the ingredient list after filtered water, Eden Foods’ Unsweetened Edensoy organic soymilk is fortified with vitamins and calcium, GMO-free, and delivers 69 mg per serving of naturally occurring isoflavones as well as vitamin B12, beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin D2, and calcium. Note for those with allergies: this one contains wheat and barley.
Coconut is filled with healthy fats that help you stay full longer, and is specifically unique for containing lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that your body is able to easily absorb and use for energy and can even help your body fight infections and viruses. It is worth noting that due to its high-fat content, coconut milk is best enjoyed in moderation. My choice for coconut milk is:
Natural Value Coconut Milk
I love minimal ingredients, and this coconut milk has just two: water and organic coconut meat extract! It is made with deep well water processed via reverse osmosis filtration and contains no additives, gums, or stabilizers.
Oat milk, which has become exceedingly popular as of late, is very nutrient-dense, high in calories, carbs, protein, and fiber, and includes many beneficial micronutrients such as calcium, riboflavin, vitamin D, and A. Oats are often processed in facilities that also process gluten-containing grains, so although they are technically gluten-free, it is important to be aware of potential contamination.
Thrive Market Organic Oat Beverage
Another short ingredient list for the win! With only oats and water, you can be sure you are avoiding any gut inflaming ingredients with Thrive Market’s Organic Oat Beverage.
Hemp milk, relatively new to the market, is gaining popularity because it is a highly nutritious milk alternative containing omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, specifically linoleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid, making hemp milk a great way to obtain these nutrients which the body can not make on its own. Additionally, it contains good amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins as well as all essential amino acids, commonly rare among non-animal products. Hemp milk even contains more plant-based protein than almond milk.
Elmhurst Barista Edition Hemp Milk
Elmhurt’s Barista Edition Hemp Milk was one of the only hemp milk products that I could find with no oils, gums, carrageenan, or emulsifiers. With 650mg Omega-3 ALAs per serving and only six ingredients, this is a great product to add to your diet. *Note: it contains whole grain oats.
*This brand also offers super clean cashew, walnut, & hazelnut milk (only 2 ingredients- nuts and water) .
Pacific Foods Hemp Milk
Pacific Foods is another quality hemp milk option that is free of oats but has less than 1% of gums and natural flavors (AKA the “bad” stuff).
Goodmylk Co. is one of the cleanest plant-based milk options after making your own milk at home! With the only ingredients being certified organic raw hemp seeds, alkaline water, and ancient mineral salt, all you have to do is mix it with 22 ounces of water and enjoy for five days.
With the increase in lactose intolerance, growing health awareness, and a shift towards improved animal welfare, the dairy-free milk market is growing exponentially. It seems like almost any plant or legume can be transformed into milk, and many unique plant-based milk options are being developed such as Three Trees Black Sesame Seed Milk and Pistachio Milk.
The days where people with various food allergies or those avoiding dairy milk for ethical reasons could not enjoy the beverage are gone and there is now an option for everybody! However, it is still essential to carefully read ingredient lists and buy organic whenever possible.