Nutrition: Plant-based milks

Navigating non-dairy milk

By Hannah Dentry, WAC Dietitian

Soy, almond and coconut milk are just a few of the options that can replace dairy milk in everything from smoothies, to baked goods, and your morning coffee.

Why make the switch?

  • Plant-based milks are safe for people with dairy allergies and lactose intolerance.
  • Plant-based milks fit perfectly into vegan diets.
  • Plant-based milks are better for the environment.

Why stick with dairy?

Dairy milk provides nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of your body:

  • Calcium: Needed for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone mass.
  • Vitamin D: Dairy milk is fortified with vitamin D which maintains proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, helping to build and maintain bones.
  • Potassium: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Protein: The building blocks for everything in the body from muscles to hormones. Protein also helps you feel full and satisfied.

What to look for?

Select plant-based milks that are:

  • Fortified in Calcium and vitamin D
  • Non-dairy milks can have as much as 5 teaspoons of sugar per cup. That constitutes 42 percent of your daily limit.
  • Not rice milk. Rice milk can contain arsenic, a human carcinogen.
  • As nutritionally similar nutritionally to dairy milk as possible. (See chart below)

(1 cup)

Calorie  Added Sugar (tsp) Protein




Vit D


Dairy, 1% 100 0 8 30% 25%
Soy 110 1 8 45% 30%
Almond 80 3 1 45% 25%
Coconut 80 1.5 0 45% 25%
Pea Protein 110 1 10 45% 40%
Cashew 50 1 1 30% 50%
Hemp 160 4 3 50% 30%
Oat 1          30 4.5 4 35% 25%

*This chart includes estimates based on popular brands of plant-based milks


—Posted February 20, 2019

More Athletics & Wellness

Weight loss and you
Moving Well to Manage Arthritis
How stress impacts our health