Non-dairy milks have been a popular substitute for cow’s milk for several years. While soy milk was the first to gain in popularity, there are now a variety of plant-based milks, all of which offer different nutritional benefits and compromises. Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegan or lactose intolerant, there is one question you might have asked yourself: Which one do I choose? We taste-tested some of the most popular varieties of non-dairy milk in order to find a tasty option that packs a nutrition punch.
Non-Dairy Milk Competitors
From left to right: Rice Dream Rice Drink, Dream Blends Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut Drink, Silk Soymilk, Tempt Hempmilk, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
Non-Dairy Milk Blind Tasting
Non-Dairy Milk Taste Results
In the taste comparison, Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Silk Soymilk came in first and second place, respectively. Almond Breeze, deemed the milder-tasting milk, had a more versatile flavor. Silk had a stronger flavor with a slight aftertaste. Tempt Hempmilk came in last place, with testers remarking that it had a bitter flavor and strong odor.
Unsweetened vs. Sweetened Non-Dairy Milk
For the taste test, we chose sweetened varieties of each non-dairy milk. Most of our competitors are also available in unsweetened varieties, which have 0 grams of sugar per serving. We expected the sweetened milks to have high sugar content compared to milk. However, we were surprised to learn that even the sweetened varieties of non-dairy milk had less sugar than a comparable glass of 1% milk, which usually packs 13 grams of sugar per cup. Just by switching from cow’s milk to non-dairy milk, you can reduce your sugar intake.
Empty Calories and Omega-3 Hype
Both Rice Dream Ricemilk and Tempt Hempmilk are hyped-up players in the non-dairy arena. In the taste competition, Rice Dream Ricemilk placed in the middle and Tempt Hempmilk came in last place. Nutritionally, Rice Dream has little to offer: It has 120 calories and 10 grams of sugar per serving (the highest in the comparison), and only provided a measly 1 gram of protein. In addition, it was fortified with many of the same vitamins and minerals as the other milks in the competition. Given that it’s made from white rice, Rice Dream is the “empty calorie” champion in the competition.
Tempt Hempmilk was a unique competitor, because it contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Both omega-3s and omega-6s are considered essential in our diet, because our bodies can’t make them by themselves. However, there are certain kinds of omega-3s that are more important to eat than others. This is why certain foods such as fish and chia seeds are emphasized. The omega-3s that are found in Tempt (SDA – stearidonic acid) aren’t as good to eat nutrition-wise as the omega-3s in fish (EPA & DHA). More research needs be done about the omega-3s in hemp milk to determine if they’re as beneficial as other omega-3s.
Non-Dairy Milk Options for Vegetarians and Vegans
Dream Blends Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut Drink received high marks in taste in the comparison. In addition, it’s fortified with extra vitamin B-12 (50% of the daily recommended intake), which is difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get because it’s usually found in animal sources. Dream Blends is a good option for people who don’t eat meat, because it’s soy free (to avoid getting too much soy in your diet) and for its vitamin B-12 content.
Silk Soymilk and Almond Breeze Almondmilk received the highest marks in taste and nutrition. They’re both fortified with calcium, providing 45% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) per serving, and vitamin D, with 25% of your DRI. Silk is also a good source of protein, coming in at 7 grams per serving.
Which to choose? Almond Breeze is a lighter choice. With only 60 calories per serving and 0 grams of saturated fat, it can promote maintaining a healthy weight.
Until the next blind-taste test, snack wiser.
Bobby is the community and social media manager at Zipongo. He has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.