Almond, cashew, hemp, rice, flax, soy and other non-dairy milks have been flying off the shelves since they first hit the market, and the trend only continues to skyrocket. Plant-based milks aren’t just cruelty-free, which is reason alone to purchase them, but they also come with additional benefits that make them an amazing plant-based staple to keep around the house. They’re also incredibly easy to use in everyday and unconventional recipes. Want a smoothie or some cream for your coffee? Just grab some almond or coconut milk and you’re good to go. Need a sweet beverage to replace sweetened condensed milk in a baking recipe? Rice milk is a great option that will lend a lovely, light sweetness to your recipes without all the negative effects of dairy.

Some plant-based milks do contain additives like carrageenan or excessive amounts of sugar, both of which you’ll want to avoid. Look for unsweetened, non-dairy milks that are free from carrageenan and that preferably have a short ingredient list.

Ignore those marketing myths telling you that dairy milk “does a body good.” Here’s why plant-based milks are what your body really wants and loves:

1. More Calcium

Getting enough calcium on a plant-based diet is a breeze! Especially thanks to non-dairy milks, which often have 50 percent more per serving than dairy milk does.  Calcium is important for healthy bones, teeth, keeping your blood pressure low, reducing tension, aiding in overall nervous system health, and for preventing osteoporosis. For all those individuals that believe dairy milk is a better source, guess again. Dairy is highly acidic and has been known to actually leach calcium from your bones, which is definitely not optimal unless you’re looking to develop osteoporosis anytime soon! If you’d like to make your own plant-based milks at home, be sure to use higher sources of plant-based calcium, such as chia seeds and almonds.

2. Lower in Sugar

Unsweetened non-dairy milk is usually free of any sugar, with some containing only the natural sugars found in nuts and seeds. Compared to cow’s milk that contains anywhere from 13-16 grams up in just one cup, plant-based milks are a much better choice. Milk’s sugar content comes from a natural sugar known as lactose, which can cause digestive upset, allergies, and even blood-sugar problems. Plant-based milks that are lower in sugar will naturally be easier on your blood sugar and will not trigger a rise in glucose. Some may even lower the blood sugar response in the body.

3. Free From IGF-1

Dairy milk contains natural hormones, including varieties that are free from added hormones. These hormones stimulate a high increase of insulin once your consume them. This triggers the release of IGF-1 in the body, which stands for insulin growth factor. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a plant-based medical doctor and author of The Nutritarian Diet, explains that IFF-1 is directly linked to cancer cell growth, along with other health related issues. IGF-1 has also been linked to acne due to the way it triggers an excessive insulin response in the body. Not a good thing, right? Free yourself from this naturally toxic substance found in all dairy moods and pick up a plant-based milk instead!

4. Lower in Calories

While we believe in quality over calories, dairy milk, processed foods, and sugar are the exceptions to this rule, in our book. If you’ll notice, most non-dairy milks are extremely low in calories, though very satisfying. They don’t trigger high blood sugar when used in an unsweetened form, nor are they likely to cause weight gain. Sure, you can buy skim and fat-free milk, but plant-based milks are a much better option. Even those higher in calories such as coconut, hemp, rice, and soy milk are still much lower in calories than dairy milk per serving. Go for unsweetened almond, flax, or cashew milk  if you want the lowest calorie option possible.

5. They Are Easy to Digest

Plant-based milks are usually very easy to digest, which makes them perfect if you’re looking for ways to optimize your digestion on a plant-based diet. If you have a nut or soy allergy, rice milk is an allergy-friendly option you may want to consider. Coconut and flax milk are other well-tolerated choices as well. Most people with digestive issues notice they feel much better once they get rid of dairy in their diet due to the lactose dairy milk contains. If your digestion needs a tune up, give up the cow’s milk and give non-dairy milk a try instead!

Purchase plant-based milks that contain minimal ingredients such as: seeds or nuts, water, sea salt, and natural, food based flavorings like real vanilla. Check to make sure they’re free from MSG, they’re unsweetened, and they’re not genetically modified.

Not sure which plant-based milk option is best for you? Check out this simple guide to help you discover your best choice. If you’re not into buying processed milks, then go for homemade non-dairy milks instead. They’re incredibly easy to make and also come with additional benefits.

Do your body some good, and throw back a glass of non-dairy milk. You won’t believe how easy and delicious these plant-based options can be!

Image Source: How to Make Homemade Almond Milk