The role that milk plays in our daily lives is quite vital. It has many health-promoting and beneficial properties. Aside from cow’s milk, there are many nut milk alternatives on the market. They include soy milk, almond milk, as well as others. These options are very popular among vegans and those who suffer from lactose intolerance. It is, however, interesting to know that rice milk is now at the forefront of dairy milk alternatives. This option is the in-thing after the top varieties of nut milk. You may have guessed that this variety of dairy-free milk comes from rice. Among other things, it is low-fat.
Rice-milk is a very good dairy alternative. We don’t expect you to take this hook, line, and sinker. You probably have many questions that demand answers. We will give you the many answers that you desire. But if you are wondering about how rice milk looks; it is usually slightly foamy. But then, its appearance is very similar to other milk varieties. If you compare the consistency of cow’s milk to that of this milk, it is somewhat lighter. Anyways, it may not have as many nutrients as you will find in cow’s milk. But then, most manufacturers fortified their ice milk with vitamin B12 and calcium.
Why Would You Desire a Milk Substitute?
Cow’s milk has a very impressive nutrition profile. It has an abundance of high-quality protein, as well as important minerals and vitamins. These include calcium, B vitamins, and phosphorus. Just a single cup of milk (about 240 ml) provides 8g of proteins, 13g of carbs, 8g of fats, and 146 calories.
The problem with cow’s (dairy) milk is that it’s not suitable for everybody. If you are one of the people who need an alternative to cow’s milk, there are many options for you. But then, what are the reasons for seeking alternatives to dairy milk? Some of these reasons include:
1. Lactose intolerance
Many people in this world suffer from lactose intolerance. The FDA tells us that three out of every four people in this world have lactose intolerance. What is lactose? It is the form of sugar that is present in milk.
Lactose intolerance happens when a person is deficient in lactase. Lactase is the enzyme responsible for lactose digestion. So when a person lacks lactase, they will not be able to digest lactose. It will, therefore, cause digestive disturbances.
As such, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you should not be consuming dairy milk. You would need an alternative, such as rice milk.
2. Milk allergy
2–3% of children below 3 years of age have a milk allergy. This allergy causes symptoms, such as rashes, diarrhea, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can cause severe anaphylaxis. Thankfully, about 80 percent of these kids would outgrow the allergies before they clock 16.
3. Dietary restrictions
Some people personally decide to cut animal products and foods from their diet. This decision is usually for health or ethical reasons. Vegans, for instance, would not consume dairy milk due to their dietary restrictions.
4. Other possible health risks
Depending on production methods, certain contaminants may be present in dairy milk. These include pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. For this reason, some people make up their minds to cut out cow’s milk.
Is Rice Milk a Good Dairy Alternative?
Rice milk is a product of milled rice (either brown or white) and water. Just like other non-dairy varieties of milk, it typically contains thickeners. These help to improve their taste and texture.
Do you know that of all non-dairy varieties, the safest option in terms of allergies is rice milk? It is very safe for those who have dairy intolerances or allergies. It is also safe for anyone who has intolerances to gluten, dairy, nuts, or soy.
The milk from rice has a mild taste. More so, its flavor is naturally sweet. Its consistency is slightly watery, so it is lighter than dairy milk. You can, therefore, drink it as-is or add it to your smoothies, desserts, and oatmeal.
A single cup of this non-dairy milk (240 ml) contains 2-3g fats, 27-38g carbs, 1g protein, and 130–140 calories. From its nutrition profile, you would see that its fats and protein contents far less than that of dairy milk.
You can also see that its calorie content is similar to that of dairy milk. However, its carb content is almost double. It is one of the most-rich alternatives to dairy milk in carbs. It has almost three times the number of carbs in many other alternatives.
As such, the glycemic index of rice milk is quite high (79–92). This implies that your gut would absorb it very quickly. This causes a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. As such, you should probably avoid rice milk if you are diabetic.
We mentioned earlier that rice milk is low in proteins. It is, therefore, not the best alternative for children who are still growing. Elderly people and athletes also need lots of protein. So they may be better off with other alternatives.
The FDA recommends the consumption of rice as an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet. The same directive goes for rice milk too. This means that this milk alternative may be healthy, but you must not solely rely on it. You must diversify your meals with various grains, as well as other non-dairy milk varieties.
Important Consideration When Choosing a Milk Substitute
If you are avoiding dairy milk, you can go with rice milk as an alternative. However, since there are many products on the market, you must have a guide for choosing the best. A few considerations for choosing milk substitutes are as follows:
- Check the added sugar. Unsweetened varieties are always better than flavored ones.
- Look at the calcium content. A product that is fortified with calcium is always better. The ideal amount of calcium n a milk substitute is about 120mg per 100 ml.
- Products fortified with vitamin B12 are better.
- The fewer additives are in the product, the better.
In conclusion, rice milk is a good dairy alternative. However, consume it in moderation. Also, if you cannot make yours at home, buy a product that is adequately fortified and has minimal additives and added sugars.