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Which Milk Is Best For People With Diabetes?

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Erin Davis

Over the previous few years, the variability of milk products has grown substantially. Cow’s milk, lactose-free milk, almond milk, oat milk – the list goes on. So how do which one to decide on?

It was once easy. There was cow’s milk and a lactose-free alternative, like soy or almond milk. Nonetheless, the offerings have multiplied attributable to the demand for plant-based milk products.

The milk section on the food market is loaded with selections and will set your head spinning. Do you have to select skim or whole milk? Is there a profit to picking plant-based milk? Are there some milk options which might be higher for individuals with diabetes?

What’s milk?

Milk is a beverage generally defined as a liquid that sustains young mammals. Since it is the only real food for the event and growth of babies, it’s filled with nutrients like protein, fat, and calcium.

Within the U.S., most individuals consider milk as cow’s milk. But around the globe, sheep and goat’s milk are also common.

While milk is a superb source of vitamins and minerals, not everyone can tolerate it. Some people could also be lactose intolerant, which is the shortcoming to properly digest the carbohydrates in milk (lactose). Those that are lactose intolerant may experience gas, bloating, and diarrhea in the event that they devour cow’s milk.

Milk allergies, that are less common, is an allergy to the protein in milk. Symptoms of milk allergies are frequently different than lactose intolerance, starting from mild skin irritation or hives to more severe anaphylaxis.

You could also prefer a vegan or vegetarian alternative. Plant-based products like soy, almond, and oat milk are beverages which have an analogous color and texture to exploit but are made with plants and water. They often might be used as an alternative choice to cow’s milk in recipes.

What are the health advantages of drinking milk?

Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of dairy every single day. This includes milk, yogurt, and cheese. Besides the indisputable fact that milk is a superb technique to get a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, it has several other health advantages.

For instance whey, a protein present in cow’s milk, can have what Jess DeGore, a registered dietitian and authorized diabetes care and education specialist, called “insulinotropic” effects. This implies whey protein could stimulate the production and activity of insulin. This is very vital for somebody with insulin resistance.

“Experimental studies indicated that whey protein has glucose-lowering properties,” said DeGore. ““Cow’s milk is my first advice as lots of the plant-based milks have a less diverse dietary profile.”

More research is required, but some studies suggest low-fat cow’s milk could also be linked to a reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. Low-fat dairy products is also helpful for other health conditions including heart problems, stroke, hypertension, colorectal cancer, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Dairy milk

Take a fast stroll through the dairy section of the supermarket and also you’ll see the big number of milk available. Besides yogurt, cheese, and butter, there are rows and rows of milk. Here’s an summary of the differing types you’ll find and the nutrient value of every kind.

Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk is tough to beat nutritionally. It’s a wonderful source of bone-building calcium and vitamin D. You may get several different sorts of cow’s milk, including low-fat (skim, 1%, or 2%), whole, organic, or ultra-filtered.

Whole milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 149 kcals, Protein: 8 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Carbs: 12 grams, Sugar: 12 grams, Sodium: 105 mg, Calcium: 276 mg, Vitamin D: 3.17 mcg

“I like to recommend whole milk at any time when there’s no concern about dairy allergies,” said registered dietitian Kara Harbstreet. “Whole milk is the least processed and most nutrient-dense of traditional dairy options. The fat and protein content might help stabilize blood glucose levels and stop rapid absorption of the carbohydrates naturally present in milk.”

Low-fat milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 84-122 kcals, Protein: 8 grams, Fat: 0-5 grams, Carbs: 12 grams, Sugar: 12 grams, Sodium: 96 mg, Calcium: 310 mg, Vitamin D: 2.6-2.7 mcg

With low-fat milk, among the cream is removed to lower fat content. In consequence, the calorie count is a bit lower than whole milk.

Two well-researched food plan patterns, the Mediterranean and DASH diets, include consumption of low-fat dairy. These food plan patterns have repeatedly shown quite a few health advantages, corresponding to diabetes prevention, decreased heart problems, and reduced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 120 kcals, Protein: 13 grams, Fat: 4.5 grams, Carbs: 6 grams, Sugar: 6 grams, Sodium: 120 mg, Calcium: 401 mg, Vitamin D: 5 mcg

Ultra-filtered milk has been specially filtered in order that there may be more protein and calcium and fewer sugar than conventional milk.

That signifies that ultra-filtered milk has half the carbs. So if you happen to want to reduce your carbs and up your protein, this may be an ideal technique to do it. As well as, the filtration process removes the lactose, so even those with lactose intolerance may have the opportunity to drink it.

Lactose-free milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 90-160 kcals, Protein: 8 grams, Fat: 0-8 grams, Carbs: 12 grams, Sugar: 12 grams, Sodium: 125 mg, Calcium: 300-310 mg, Vitamin D: 2.5 mcg

Certain milk brands, corresponding to Lactaid, have added the enzyme lactase to the milk. Lactase breaks down lactose so it’s more easily digested.

It has the identical protein and fat content as regular cow’s milk, in addition to vitamins and minerals. Lactose-free milk is a superb option for those searching for the dietary value of milk but who’re lactose-intolerant.

Goat milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 168 kcals, Protein: 9 grams, Fat: 10 grams, Carbs: 11 grams, Sugar: 11 grams, Sodium: 122 mg, Calcium: 327 mg, Vitamin D: 3.1 mcg

Another choice within the dairy aisle is goat milk. With a unique taste than cow’s milk, goat milk could also be easier for some to digest. Goat milk is higher in oligosaccharides (the identical carbohydrate present in nutrient-rich breastmilk) than cow’s milk.

These oligosaccharides possess anti-inflammatory properties and function fuel for healthy gut bacteria. Like cow’s milk, goat milk is high in calcium, the mineral essential for bone health.


When the label states that milk is organic, it means the animal was raised with certain methods of farming. Those methods include the restriction of pesticides, fertilizers, and GMO products used for his or her food and there have been no antibiotics or hormones used to extend milk production.

The cows or goats are allowed to graze more freely and are pastured for at the least one-third of the yr. Organic farming is considered more humane. Nonetheless, there may be little difference from a nutrition standpoint.

Plant-based milk

For those following a vegetarian or vegan food plan, there may be an unlimited amount of plant-based options. So which one is best?

“Search for a plant-based milk with the next protein and fat content at any time when possible,” Harbstreet said.

In comparison to cow’s milk, plant-based milk is commonly lower in phosphorus, a mineral that should be limited in those with kidney disease. Here’s an inventory of some common plant-based milks you’ll find on the food market.

Oat milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 90 kcals, Protein: 2 grams, Fat: 1.5 grams, Carbs: 19 grams, Sugar: 4 grams, Sodium: 120 mg, Calcium: 350 mg, Vitamin D: 4 mcg

Oat milk is made by combining oats with water. The mixture is then strained and the result’s a creamy beverage. You may even make your personal at home. Along with being plant-based, oat milk can also be nut-free. Oat milk could also be a preferable option for those with nut allergies.

You’ll notice the carb counts are a bit higher with oat milk than the opposite sorts of milk. Nonetheless, unlike most milk, oat milk accommodates 2-3 grams of fiber per serving. This soluble fiber – beta-glucan – improves post-meal blood glucose.

Almond milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 60 kcals, Protein: 1 gram, Fat: 2.5 grams, Carbs: 8 grams, Sugar: 7 grams, Sodium: 150 mg, Calcium: 470 mg, Vitamin D: 2 mcg

A very fashionable plant-based beverage, almond milk has a nutty flavor and similar texture to cow’s milk. Almond milk is made with almonds and water.

Since it is low in carbohydrates, it could be a superb option if you happen to want to reduce carbs. Almond milk can also be a superb source of vitamin E, which has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.

Take into account that as with other plant-based milk products, some almond milk brands contain extra sugar and calories; it’s vital to read nutrition labels to make sure you’re buying the product right in your dietary needs.

Soy milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 100 kcals, Protein: 8 grams, Fat: 4.5 grams, Carbs: 9 grams, Sugar: 6 grams, Sodium: 90 mg, Calcium: 450 mg, Vitamin D: 3 mcg

Soy milk comes pretty near dairy in its nutrition profile. It’s got protein, fat, carbs, calcium, and vitamin D. Made by mixing soybeans and water, soy milk is a widely available plant-based beverage.

Wealthy in isoflavones and phytochemicals (plant antioxidants), soy milk has been found to lower triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Coconut milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 70 kcals, Protein: 0 grams, Fat: 4.5 grams, Carbs: 8 grams, Sugar: 7 grams, Sodium: 30 mg, Calcium: 130 mg, Vitamin D: 2.5 mcg

Coconut milk has a wealthy and barely sweet coconut flavor. It’s notably low in protein but does contain carbohydrates and fat.

The dietary fat in coconut milk – medium chain triglycerides – has some potential health advantages. As an illustration, MCTs may increase calorie burn and are highly satiating, which can prevent overeating.

Rice milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 120 kcals, Protein: 0 grams, Fat: 2.5 grams, Carbs: 24 grams, Sugar: 11 grams, Sodium: 80 mg, Calcium: 20 mg, Vitamin D: 0 mcg

With higher carbs than most other sorts of milk, rice milk has zero protein, vitamin D, and little calcium. For this reason, rice milk is probably not the perfect option for somebody with diabetes. Nonetheless, rice milk is usually well tolerated by those that have food allergies.

Hemp milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 60 kcals, Protein: 3 grams, Fat: 4.5 grams, Carbs: 0 grams, Sugar: 0 grams, Sodium: 110 mg, Calcium: 260 mg, Vitamin D: 2 mcg

Constructed from whole hemp seeds, hemp milk is one other vegan alternative that’s low in carbs. Even though it is comprised of the cannabis plant – the identical plant from which marijuana is derived – hemp seeds shouldn’t have the identical mind-altering effects.

Hemp seeds are a superb source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp milk is gluten, dairy, and soy-free and will be an option for those with allergies and intolerances to those ingredients.

Cashew milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 25 kcals, Protein: 1 gram, Fat: 2 grams, Carbs: 1 gram, Sugar: 0 grams, Sodium: 160 mg, Calcium: 470 mg, Vitamin D: 2 mcg

Like other nut milk varieties, cashew milk consists of cashews and water and might be made at home. It has a sweet and creamy flavor, much like almond milk.

Cashew milk is one in all the bottom in calories and carbohydrates. Cashew milk is fortified to contain calcium and vitamin D, and is a natural source of vitamin E.

Flax milk

Nutrition information for one cup:
Calories: 25 kcals, Protein: 0 grams, Fat: 2.5 grams, Carbs: 1 grams, Sugar: 0 grams, Sodium: 85 mg, Calcium: 270 mg, Vitamin D: 2.2 mcg

Flax milk is comprised of flaxseeds and water. Like hemp seeds, flaxseeds are also wealthy in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Dietary flaxseed has been shown to cut back blood pressure and cholesterol and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Even though it has a nutty flavor and is creamy like almond milk, it’s nut-free. As well as, flax milk is a gluten-free and dairy-free beverage that may be very low in calories and carbohydrates.

Suggestions for selecting diabetes-friendly milk

Everyone has their very own preferences, budget, and unique set of dietary needs. There are several things to think about when selecting the appropriate milk for you.

  • Consider the entire picture: The scope of your overall food plan is way more than one serving of milk. “Are you consuming the milk in cereal? With dessert? With a balanced dinner?” DeGore said. “The vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble so need fat for optimal absorption. If selecting a higher-fat milk or dairy product can result in less consumption of added sugars then it will possibly be a greater option.”
  • Look ahead to added sugar: “Know that flavored milk (like chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla) may have added sugar, which must be accounted for if dosing insulin or adjusting medications,” said Harbstreet.
  • Take a look at the label: You may learn rather a lot in regards to the product by the nutrition label. Should you’re seeking to avoid added sugar or for a lower-fat product, for instance, assessing the nutrition label is a superb place to begin.
  • What nutrients do you would like? Each style of milk has its own dietary profile. Should you are in need of more protein, cow’s milk or ultra-filtered milk could also be the appropriate selection. Likewise, if you happen to need calcium and vitamin D, select one in all the beverages which were fortified.
  • Pay attention to additives: Ingredients like thickeners and carrageenan (a food preservative) are sometimes added to exploit beverages so that they’re more like cow’s milk. While these additives are generally recognized as secure by the FDA, some studies suggest that limiting exposure to such ingredients.

The underside line

The milk you select is totally as much as your personal preferences and health needs. While dairy milk has a superior nutrition profile when put next to plant-based milk, not everyone prefers dairy. The excellent news is that there may be an option for everybody.

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