How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?

Abstract

Due to the issues like lactose intolerance and milk allergy arising from the consumption of cow’s milk, there has been an increased demand in the plant based alternative milks around the world. Food industry has addressed these demands by introducing various milk beverages which are promoted as alternatives coming from plant sources which include almond milk and soy milk. Though they are popularly advertised as healthy and wholesome, little research has been done in understanding the nutritional implications of consuming these milk beverages in short term and long term. Further, consumers associate these alternatives to be a direct substitute of cow’s milk which might not be true in all cases. This review tries to address the issue by outlining the differences between cow’s milk and commercially available alternative milks in terms of their nutrient content. Though various plant based alternate milks have been studied, only the four most consumed milk beverages are presented in this review which are consumed widely around the world. A complete nutritional outline and the corresponding health benefits of consuming these plant based milk beverages have been discussed in detail which could help the consumers make an informed decision.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Abbreviations

DRI:

Dietary Reference Intakes

EAR:

Estimated Average Requirements

HDL:

High-density lipoprotein

LDL:

Low-density lipoprotein

MUFA:

Monounsaturated fatty acids

PUFA:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

USDA:

United States Department of Agriculture

References

  1. Bahna SL (2002) Cow’s milk allergy versus cow milk intolerance. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 89:56–60. doi:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62124-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Barnes S (1998) Evolution of the health benefits of soy isoflavones. Exp Biol Med 217:386–396. doi:10.3181/00379727-217-44249

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bernat N, Cháfer M, Chiralt A, González-Martínez C (2014) Development of a non-dairy probiotic fermented product based on almond milk and inulin. Food Sci Technol Int. doi:10.1177/1082013214543705

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bernat N, Cháfer M, Rodríguez-García J, Chiralt A, González-Martínez C (2015) Effect of high pressure homogenisation and heat treatment on physical properties and stability of almond and hazelnut milks. LWT—Food Sci and Technol 62:488–496. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2014.10.045

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Bowman SA (2002) Beverage choices of young females: changes and impact on nutrient intakes. J Am Diet Assoc 102:1234–1239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chen CY, Lapsley K, Blumberg J (2006) A nutrition and health perspective on almonds. J Sci Food Agric 86:2245–2250

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Craig WJ (2009) Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr 89:1627S–1633S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cuppari C, Manti S, Salpietro A, Dugo G, Gitto E, Arrigo T, Sturiale M, Salpietro C (2015) Almond milk: a potential therapeutic weapon against cows milk protein allergy. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 29:8–12

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Dhakal S, Liu C, Zhang Y, Roux KH, Sathe SK, Balasubramaniam VM (2014) Effect of high pressure processing on the immunoreactivity of almond milk. Food Res Int 62:215–222. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2014.02.021

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Douglas G (1995) Dairy science and technology education series. University of Guelph, Guelph

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ekanayaka R, Ekanayaka N, Perera B, De Silva P (2013) Impact of a traditional dietary supplement with coconut milk and soya milk on the lipid profile in normal free living subjects. J Nutr Metab

  12. El-Agamy EI (2007) The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Rumin Res 68:64–72

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Eshtiaghi MN, Paoplook K (2013) Application of high electric field pulses in coconut milk processing. Int J Agric Innov Res 2:357–362

    Google Scholar 

  14. Friedman M, Brandon DL (2001) Nutritional and health benefits of soy proteins. J Agric Food Chem 49:1069–1086. doi:10.1021/jf0009246

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gizzarelli F, Corinti S, Barletta B, Iacovacci P, Brunetto B, Butteroni C, Afferni C, Onori R, Miraglia M, Panzini G, Di Felice G, Tinghino R (2006) Evaluation of allergenicity of genetically modified soybean protein extract in a murine model of oral allergen-specific sensitization. Clin Exp Allergy 36:238–248

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Gray CL, Goddard E, Karabus S, Kriel M, Lang AC, Manjra AI, Risenga SM, Terblanche AJ, van der Spuy DA, Levin ME (2014) Epidemiology of IgE-mediated food allergy. SAMJ South Afr Med J 105(1):68–69

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Grundy SM (1986) Comparison of monounsaturated fatty acids and carbohydrates for lowering plasma cholesterol. New Engl J Med 314:745–748

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Harish Vagadia B, Vanga SK, Singh A, Raghavan V (2016) Effects of thermal and electric fields on soybean trypsin inhibitor protein: a molecular modelling study. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol 35:9–20. doi:10.1016/j.ifset.2016.03.004

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hettinga K, van Valenberg H, de Vries S, Boeren S, van Hooijdonk T, van Arendonk J, Vervoort J (2011) The host defense proteome of human and bovine milk. PLoS ONE 6:e19433. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019433

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Jacobsen BK, Knutsen SF, Fraser GE (1998) Does high soy milk intake reduce prostate cancer incidence? The adventist health study (United States). Cancer Causes Control 9:553–557

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Jaffé WR (2015) Nutritional and functional components of non centrifugal cane sugar: a compilation of the data from the analytical literature. J Food Compos Anal 43:194–202. doi:10.1016/j.jfca.2015.06.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Jensen RG, Ferris AM, Lammi-Keefe CJ (1991) The composition of milk fat. J Dairy Sci 74:3228–3243

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Katz KA, Mahlberg MH, Honig PJ, Yan AC (2005) Rice nightmare: kwashiorkor in 2 Philadelphia-area infants fed rice dream beverage. J Am Acad Dermatol 52:S69–S72. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2004.07.056

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kris-Etherton PM, Committee ftN (1999) Monounsaturated fatty acids and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation 100:1253–1258. doi:10.1161/01.cir.100.11.1253

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Lomer M, Parkes G, Sanderson J (2008) Review article: lactose intolerance in clinical practice–myths and realities. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 27:93–103

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Loss G, Depner M, Ulfman LH, van Neerven RJJ, Hose AJ, Genuneit J, Karvonen AM, Hyvärinen A, Kaulek V, Roduit C, Weber J, Lauener R, Pfefferle PI, Pekkanen J, Vaarala O, Dalphin J-C, Riedler J, Braun-Fahrländer C, von Mutius E, Ege MJ (2015) Consumption of unprocessed cow’s milk protects infants from common respiratory infections. J Allergy Clin Immunol 135(56–62):e52. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.08.044

    Google Scholar 

  27. Marina AM, NurulAzizah S (2014) Use of coconut versus dairy milk products in Malaysian dishes: comparison of nutritional composition and sensory evaluation. J Food Nutr Res 2:204–208

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Massa G, Vanoppen A, Gillis P, Aerssens P, Alliet P, Raes M (2001) Protein malnutrition due to replacement of milk by rice drink. Eur J Pediatr 160:382–384. doi:10.1007/s004310100746

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB (2003) Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 77:1146–1155

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Messina V, Reed Mangels ANN (2001) Considerations in planning vegan diets: children. J Am Diet Assoc 101:661–669. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(01)00167-5

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Murugkar DA (2014) Effect of sprouting of soybean on the chemical composition and quality of soymilk and tofu. J Food Sci Technol 51:915–921. doi:10.1007/s13197-011-0576-9

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Murugkar DA (2015) Effect of different process parameters on the quality of soymilk and tofu from sprouted soybean. J Food Sci Technol 52:2886–2893. doi:10.1007/s13197-014-1320-z

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Newmark HL (1987) Nutrient density: an important and useful tool for laboratory animal studies. Carcinogenesis 8:871–873. doi:10.1093/carcin/8.7.871

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Oliver SP, Boor KJ, Murphy SC, Murinda SE (2009) Food safety hazards associated with consumption of raw milk. Foodborne Pathog Dis 6:793–806

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Omoni AO, Aluko RE (2005) Soybean foods and their benefits: potential mechanisms of action. Nutr Rev 63:272–283. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2005.tb00141.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) (2016) milk, n.1 and adj. Oxford University Press, United Kingdom

  37. Pollard J, Shantz E, Steward F (1961) Hexitols in coconut milk: their role in nurture of dividing cells. Plant Physiol 36:492

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Qin L, Xu J, Wang P, Tong J, Hoshi K (2007) Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: evidence from cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 16:467

    Google Scholar 

  39. Roux KH, Teuber SS, Sathe SK (2003) Tree nut allergens. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 131:234–244

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Salpietro CD, Gangemi S, Briuglia S, Meo A, Merlino MV, Muscolino G, Bisignano G, Trombetta D, Saija A (2005) The almond milk: a new approach to the management of cow-milk allergy/intolerance in infants. Minerva Pediatr 57:173–180

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  41. Sandler RB, Slemenda CW, LaPorte RE, Cauley JA, Schramm MM, Barresi ML, Kriska AM (1985) Postmenopausal bone density and milk consumption in childhood and adolescence. Am J Clin Nutr 42:270–274

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  42. Santos A, Dias A, Pinheiro JA (2010) Predictive factors for the persistence of cow’s milk allergy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 21:1127–1134

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Scrimshaw NS, Murray EB (1988) The acceptability of milk and milk products in populations with a high prevalence of lactose intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr 48:1142–1159

    Google Scholar 

  44. Sethi S, Tyagi SK, Anurag RK (2016) Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review. J Food Sci Technol 53:3408–3423. doi:10.1007/s13197-016-2328-3

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Shannon R, Rodriguez JM (2014) Total arsenic in rice milk. Food Addit Contam Part B 7:54–56

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Shantz EM, Steward FC (1952) Coconut milk factor: the growth-promoting substances in coconut milk1. J Am Chem Soc 74:6133–6135. doi:10.1021/ja01143a530

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Sicherer SH (2011) Epidemiology of food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 127:594–602. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.11.044

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Sicherer SH, Sampson HA (2010) Food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 125:S116–S125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Sicherer SH, Sampson HA (2014) Food allergy: epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment. J Allergy Clin Immunol 133(291–307):e295. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.11.020

    Google Scholar 

  50. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM (2010) Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr ajcn 91:535–546

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Skripak JM, Matsui EC, Mudd K, Wood RA (2007) The natural history of IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 120:1172–1177. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2007.08.023

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Song Y, Chavarro JE, Cao Y, Qiu W, Mucci L, Sesso HD, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, Pollak M, Liu S (2013) Whole milk intake is associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality among US male physicians. J Nutr jn 143(2):189–196

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Stewart H, Dong D, Carlson A (2013) Why are Americans consuming less fluid milk? A look at generational differences in intake frequency. Economic research report

  54. Swagerty DL Jr, Walling AD, Klein RM (2002) Lactose intolerance. Am Fam Physician 65:1845–1850

    Google Scholar 

  55. Tapiero H, Nguyen Ba G, Couvreur P, Tew KD (2002) Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and eicosanoids in human health and pathologies. Biomed Pharmacother 56:215–222. doi:10.1016/S0753-3322(02)00193-2

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Tavazzi L, Maggioni AP, Marchioli R, Barlera S, Franzosi MG, Latini R, Lucci D, Nicolosi GL, Porcu M, Tognoni G, Gissi HFI (2008) Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with chronic heart failure (the GISSI-HF trial): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet (London, England) 372:1223–1230

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Tinchan P, Lorjaroenphon Y, Cadwallader KR, Chaiseri S (2015) Changes in the profile of volatiles of canned coconut milk during storage. J Food Sci 80:C49–C54. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.12730

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (2015) US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. http://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/ndl

  59. van Neerven RJJ, Knol EF, Heck JML, Savelkoul HFJ (2012) Which factors in raw cow’s milk contribute to protection against allergies? J Allergy Clin Immunol 130:853–858. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.06.050

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Van Winckel M, Velde SV, De Bruyne R, Van Biervliet S (2011) Clinical practice. Eur J Pediatr 170:1489–1494

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Vanga SK, Raghavan V (2016) Processing efects on tree nut allergens: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 57(17):3794–3806. doi:10.1080/10408398.2016.1175415

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Vanga S, Singh A, Harish Vagadia B, Raghavan V (2015a) Global food allergy research trend: a bibliometric analysis. Scientometrics 105:203–213. doi:10.1007/s11192-015-1660-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Vanga SK, Singh A, Raghavan V (2015b) Effect of thermal and electric field treatment on the conformation of Ara h 6 peanut protein allergen. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol 30:79–88. doi:10.1016/j.ifset.2015.03.003

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Vanga SK, Singh A, Raghavan V (2015c) Review of conventional and novel food processing methods on food allergens. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. doi:10.1080/10408398.2015.1045965

    Google Scholar 

  65. Yuan S, Chang SK, Liu Z, Xu B (2008) Elimination of trypsin inhibitor activity and beany flavor in soy milk by consecutive blanching and ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) processing. J Agric Food Chem 56:7957–7963

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

The authors are grateful to the discovery grant provided by NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) as financial support for the research program.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sai Kranthi Vanga.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Vanga, S.K., Raghavan, V. How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk?. J Food Sci Technol 55, 10–20 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-017-2915-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Milk beverages
  • Nutrition
  • Plant based alternative milks
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk