What to know about milk alternatives

More Americans than ever are ditching dairy and choosing milk alternatives instead, from almond milk, nut milk and even hemp milk.

At grocery stores nationwide Americans are having a cow over non-dairy products.

From almond to soy, milk alternatives have grown by 61 percent over the last five years, according to the market research group Mintel.

Northwestern Dietician Bethany Doerfler says part of the reason is because we're seeing more food allergies than ever before, but another big reason is the popularity of plant based diets.

If you're not suffering from an allergy, she says cow's milk provides a great source of protein and is highly recommended, especially for toddlers and young children.

But for adults looking to switch up their taste buds, there are some good milk alternatives on the market, including soy milk.

"Soy gets a bad reputation, undeservingly," Doerfler said. "Soy protein is actually very healthy, it doesn't give you excessive hormones. Soy is also rich in protein and low in sugar."

There is also legume milk.

"Those are nice because they're rich in protein," Doerfler said. "They can sometimes cause a little more digestive unrest so they're not always the best option for some of our GI patients."

Samantha Chatman's favorite was the oat milk, but was not a fan of the coconut milk.

Doerfler said reading the label should be your first step before you make the switch.

"So it's important when people are reading labels that they are looking for plant based milk that has been fortified, something with vitamin D and B vitamins added," she said. "A glass of cow's milk has about 8 grams of protein in it. When you're looking at some of the plant based milks, unless we're talking about soy or hemp milk, generally things like almond milk or rice milk coconut milk have no protein"

It's best to speak with your doctor first and do you research so that your family gets the morning boost they need with or without dairy.

People who receive government assistance can purchase these milk alternatives, but regardless of how you're paying, understand that these milks are not cheap. It and cost $2-$4 more than regular milk, with soy as the cheapest option.

If you need something investigated, call the I-Team Consumer Alert Tip Line at 312-750-7847.
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