Nancy, I eat a vegan diet, hence I do not drink cow’s milk. Which is a better source of protein: soy, almond or rice milk?
There’s no debate: Soy milk is a far superior source of protein compared to almond or rice milk. That’s because soy, like cow’s milk, contains complete proteins and offers all the essential amino acids needed for building muscles and healthy bodies. Almond milk and rice milk, on the other hand, are protein-poor. Their labels even say, “Not to be used as an infant formula”. That says to me the products are not life sustaining. That is, a little baby can thrive on soy (or cow) milk, but not rice or almond milk. Note: the term “milk” can be misleading. A preferable term is “beverage”, “drink” or “dairy alternative.”
When comparing the food labels, you can see that:
• Soy milk offers about 7 to 11 grams of protein per 8 ounces (depending on the brand).
• Almond milk offers only 1 grams of protein per 8 ounces. Almonds are expensive, so not much ends up in the beverage. You’d be better off eating a handful of whole almonds.
• Rice milk offers 1 gram protein —or less—per 8 ounces. Rice milk is mostly carbohydrate and is “watery.”
Most almond, rice and soy beverages are fortified with calcium, but be sure to read the label because not all are fortified. For example, Nature’s Promise rice milk has 30% of the RDA for calcium whereas Rice Dream offers only 2%.
You want to buy a product that is not only calcium-fortified but also fortified with (at least) vitamin D and B-12.
In terms of taste and acceptability, you’ll want to sample several brands; they can vary greatly in taste and texture. The most popular options tend to be sweetened with rice syrup, evaporate cane juice or some other natural sweetener.
Here’s how some popular brands compare (8 ounces per serving):
Almond Breeze 60 calories 1 g Protein 2.5 g Fat 30% calcium
Nature’s Promise 100 calories 0 g Protein 2 g fat 30% calcium
Rice Dream 120 calories 1 g Protein 2.5 g Fat 2% calcium
Silk 100 calories 7 g protein 4 g Fat 30% calcium
EdenSoy 130 calories 11 g protein 4 g Fat 20% calcium