Milk and Non-Dairy Alternatives


Photo attribution: 

Flickr: Marina Shemesh

Foods Included

Cow's Milk, Goat's Milk, Sheep's Milk, Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Milk


Milk is an animal product that comes from female animals, most commonly cows. Nonfat or 1% is a healthy choice since it is the lowest in saturated fat. There are also dairy alternatives such as coconut milk, rice milk, nut milks (almond, hazelnut, soy, etc.), seed milk, and even oat milk. These alternatives are often fortified with vitamins, but be aware of added sugar content.

Buy It

  • Check the expiration date on milk before buying and make sure you can drink it before that date.
  • Watch for added sugars in alternative milks. Choose alternative milks that say "no sugar added" or "unsweetened".

Store It

  • Always store cow's milk in the refrigerator and use before the "best by" date on the container.
  • Store alternative milks in the pantry until they're opened (unless purchased cold). After they're opened, keep them in the refrigerator and use within 7-10 days.

Cook It

  • Drink fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk alone or add a little vanilla to flavor.
  • If you currently drink whole milk now, gradually switch to lower fat versions. This change cuts calories and saturated fat, but doesn't reduce calcium or other nutrients.
  • Use milk on cereal or oatmeal.
  • If you can't drink cow's milk, try alternative milks like goat, soy, or almond. Make sure it has around 300mg of calcium per serving.
  • Add milk to a smoothie with fruit and crushed ice.

Why It's Great

  • Proteins are building blocks for our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They provide a variety of nutrients that are essential for health and maintenance of your body.

  • Calcium is good for bone health.  Combine high calcium foods with with foods that contain Vitamin D for better absorption.
  • Potassium, a type of electrolyte, helps build muscle and keeps your heart healthy.
  • Vitamin A (fortified) keeps our eyes working, our immune system strong, and our cells growing.

  • Vitamin D (fortified) is essential for strong bones. Our body also absorbs Vitamin D from the sun.


Photo credits (clockwise from left)


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