Helpful facts on plant-based milk

Did you know that plant-based milk has grown in popularity around the world, especially in the Philippines? There are Filipinos who have started exploring non-lactose alternatives as part of their health and fitness routines.

This year, plant-based products placed fourth in global food trends as more people purchase them for their homes. For those who are looking to try out plant-based milk, here are some helpful facts to keep in mind.

1. Plant milks are nutritious, thanks to the natural goodness from plants. In addition to their intrinsic nutritional benefits, plant milks can be enriched with calcium and vitamin D, the key essential micronutrients present in milk. Other nutritional benefits of plants used in beverages include soy (high-quality protein and healthy polyunsaturated fats), oat (gut-friendly dietary fiber and heart-healthy beta-glucan) and almond (vitamin E antioxidant and healthy monounsaturated fats).

For some products, such as Vitasoy Plus (Milky Flavor, Oat Flavor, Original Flavor, Milky Vanilla Flavor, Milky Oat Flavor and Milky Almond Flavor), fortified plant milk can even provide as much as 36 percent more calcium than regular milk.

2. Plant milks can serve different dietary needs. Other than being rich in calcium, fortified plant milks are naturally free of lactose and cholesterol and tend to contain less calories and saturated fat than regular milk. Hence, they are suitable for people with different dietary needs, including health-conscious individuals, those who follow a plant-based, flexitarian or vegan diet. This also includes people who are lactose intolerant.

3. Plant milk is more planet-friendly. According to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020, more than 75 percent of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions come from animal-sourced foods consumed worldwide. Dairy, or more popularly known as cow’s milk, is the second contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, with 25 percent share, according to reports from international health organizations. By shifting to a plant-based diet, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced significantly.

The production of plant milk has also been found to have lower environmental impact as it uses less water and land and emits less carbon compared to the production of dairy milk.

4. National dietary guidelines recommend plant milks as a part of diverse diet. Plant milks can be delicious choices for consumers who want to have a diverse diet that consists of cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and soybeans. A diverse diet is recommended by many national dietary guidelines, such as the following:

Australian Dietary Guidelines. Those who prefer to avoid dairy products, alternatives that have added calcium, such as soy, rice, or other cereal drink with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100ml, can be chosen as an alternative to dairy products.

Canada’s Food Guide. Daily intake of food from the dairy group is no longer recommended. Both dairy product and unsweetened fortified soy beverages are recommended as protein food. The Guide recommends increasing consumption of protein foods from plants.

The EatWell Guide-UK. Soya milks and other plant milks (rice, oat, almond, hazelnut, coconut, quinoa and potato milks) can be alternative drinks to replace milk and dairy products.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Fortified soy beverages (with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D) can be included as part of the dairy group because they are similar to milk, based on nutrient composition. Other plant milks can be chosen as sources of calcium.

5. Plant milks can taste “milky” and “creamy” too.

With new technologies, the taste and texture of plant milks are now milkier and creamier.

For instance, Vitasoy has developed creamy soy milk drinks to meet the needs of those wanting the benefits of plant milk, but also looking for that milky taste and creamy mouthfeel closer to dairy. Plant-based milk options are also expanding in coffee chains, thanks to the innovations of Barista edition plant milks. They’re easy to foam, have a creamy mouthfeel, with more neutral flavors that can nicely complement coffee.

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