For hundreds of years, cow’s milk has been a staple. These days, however, people are looking for alternatives, sometimes for health reasons and sometimes over concern about industrialized production methods. But often people are just seeking something more exciting to add to their breakfast cereal or lattes.
In this article, we’ll run through the benefits of 12 different kinds of milk, from the most expensive to the least costly, outlining the benefits of each one to help you experiment with confidence.
1. Donkey Milk
Although donkey milk is rarely found commercially, it’s prized for its numerous health benefits.
- It’s closer to human milk than cow’s or goat’s milk, so it is less likely to cause allergies.
- The high lactic acid content makes it effective for treating gastric upsets.
- It’s richer in trace elements than cow’s or goat’s milk.
- It’s also used in cosmetics and is prized as a moisturizer. Cleopatra was an early fan and used to bathe in it.
Because of these and other health benefits, interest in donkey milk in the USA and Europe is growing. However, it’s not mass-produced, as each donkey only produces around 1 liter per day.
Donkey milk remains a niche product in the US and Europe, selling for between $60 and $130 per liter. So if you’re considering it as a healthy substitute for cow’s milk, it’s probably more cost-effective to invest in your own donkey.
Editor’s Note: Donkey milk is also the basis of the most expensive cheese in the world. It’s known as pulte and it is produced in Serbia.
2. Nakazawa Milk
You may well be asking, what kind of animal is a nakazawa?
In fact, Nakawaza isn’t a rare species – it’s the brand name of a Japanese company that produces this super-premium cow’s milk for adults who lead ultra-stressed lives. What’s so special about it?
- The cows are only milked once a week as dawn breaks.
- Their milk is bottled within 6 hours of milking to retain all the nutrients.
- Nakazawa milk contains 3 to 4 times as much melatonin as regular cow’s milk. Melatonin is a hormone that controls stress and reduces anxiety.
It sells in Tokyo for over $40 per liter, or around 30 times the price of regular cow splash’s milk, so it’s perhaps a waste to it over your cornflakes every day. But, given its reputed benefits, if you need to unwind during stressful times, it’s still cheaper than a day at the spa.
3. Camel’s milk
Camel’s milk is an integral part of traditional diets for many nomadic people. For example, in Arabia, the combination of dates and camel milk is the most typical way to break a prolonged fast.
Recently there’s been a lot of buzz around camel’s milk as a healthy, nutritious alternative to cow’s milk. Purported benefits include:
- It’s suitable for people with lactose intolerance and allergies to cow’s milk.
- It helps to lower blood sugar.
- It boosts the immune system.
The taste of camel milk is similar to that of cow’s milk, so it can be used in the same ways – for example, it makes a great cappuccino!
In Australia, camel milk costs $14.5 AUD per liter which equals to roughly $10 USD per a quarter of a gallon.
4. Buffalo Milk
Rich, creamy buffalo milk is widely consumed in South Asia and China. However, it’s not widely consumed in the USA or Europe, apart from Italy, and a few other countries, where it’s used to make the finest traditional mozzarella and other dairy products.
The high-fat content of buffalo milk makes it ideal for use in typical Indian dishes such as paneer, kheer, kulfi, and ghee.
It has a range of health benefits:
- It contains less cholesterol than cow’s milk.
- It is rich in calcium, supporting healthy bones and teeth.
- It is claimed to support cardiovascular health.
- It is beneficial in diets for preventing weight gain.
The economics limit commercial production. Water buffalos are larger than cows, weighing around 2,600 pounds, so they naturally eat more. However, their daily milk production is far lower – only about 7 -11 liters per day. This explains why the retail cost of buffalo milk can be anything from $30-$40 per gallon.
If you buy it fresh, expect to pay up to $30 per liter in the US, though the cost is far lower in Asia and Eastern Europe.
5. Goat’s Milk
Goat’s milk is cow’s milk’s closest rival in terms of popularity. However, there’s a big difference in flavor. While donkey, camel, and buffalo milks have a similar taste profile to cow’s milk, goat’s milk is different. The distinctive sharp taste takes some getting used to – think of the tang you get from a soft goat’s cheese.
In terms of nutrition, there’s not much to choose between them. Goat’s milk contains slightly more protein, cholesterol, and fat and the same vitamins and minerals. Goat’s milk has more calcium, potassium, and vitamin A than cow’s milk but less vitamin B12, selenium, and folic acid.
Goat’s milk has less lactose than cow’s milk, but although it’s easier to digest, it’s certainly not lactose-free.
To summarize, if you like the taste, there isn’t much difference between goat’s and cow’s milk. Despite this, goat’s milk can cost up to five times as much. Expect to pay anything between $5 and $20 per gallon.
6. Oat milk
As more consumers cut down on the amount of cow’s milk they consume, alternatives flood onto the market. As a result, plant-based milk now accounts for more than 13% of the total milk market in the USA.
Oat milk hasn’t yet reached the popularity of almond or soya milk, but you’ll find it in an ever-increasing number of coffee shops worldwide. This light, sweet milk has a slightly nutty taste, and the creamy texture means it’s perfect for lattes, cappuccinos, and chai.
Oat milk contains more fiber than other plant milks (around two grams per cup), and fans claim it reduces cholesterol.
At $8-$12 per gallon, oat milk can be an affordable substitute for lactose intolerant people who can’t use almond milk due to nut allergies.
7. Organic Whole Milk
Few would argue with the evidence that organic farming practices are better for the environment. In addition, organic whole milk is less likely to contain pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other synthetic chemical residues.
Organic whole milk is pasteurized at higher temperatures than regular cow’s milk, which gives it a longer shelf life.
Other good news is that, although the process does impact some nutrients, organic milk retains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3 can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve brain development and strengthen the immune function.
At around $4.40 per gallon, it’s slightly more expensive than regular cow’s milk, but if you prefer the idea of your favorite drink coming from pasture-grazed animals that enjoy high welfare standards, it’s a small price to pay.
8. Coconut Milk
Coconuts grow abundantly in tropical regions around the world. Despite its name, the coconut is a fruit. Coconut milk is made by mixing the coconut’s flesh with water.
Free from any animal products, it is prized by vegans and vegetarians. It contains a high proportion of MCFAs (medium chain fatty acids) and Keto fans equally prize it.
Coconut milk contains significant amounts of fat, ideal for any dish requiring a creamy texture. It works well in smoothies and milkshakes.
It also has several health benefits:
- Unlike mammalian milks, it’s lactose-free.
- Studies have shown that coconut milk has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Although coconut milk costs around $6 per gallon, it is an affordable alternative to cow, soya, and almond milk. It’s widely available in supermarkets and has a good fridge life. An opened carton will stay fresh for 7-10 days.
9. Almond Milk
The US market for almond milk has reached well over $1 billion per year and is expected to continue growing at an incredible rate.
Perhaps the most popular plant-based milk, almond milk has some nutritional benefits:
- It’s lower in calories than cow’s milk (60 calories vs. 146).
- It’s lactose-free.
- It contains no saturated fat but is high in omega-3, B-vitamins, and iron.
Although it has a different taste profile from cow’s milk, almond is a versatile alternative. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
At $6 per gallon, it’s an affordable alternative to regular cow’s milk.
However, despite its advantages, almond milk is controversial – mainly due to concerns about environmental costs. For example, in the US, most almonds are grown in water-depleted California, yet it requires 130 pints of water to produce a single glass of almond milk. In addition, there’s a debate about the negative impact on the bee population required to pollinate almond flowers.
If sustainability is high on your must-have list for your milk, hazelnut, macadamia, or cashew milk are more acceptable alternatives.
10. Soy Milk
Soy milk came into being as a way to use the waste products from tofu production. Today, you can find soy milk everywhere. It’s a lactose-free dairy substitute with unmatched benefits.
- ·It’s packed with high-quality plant protein.
- It’s rich in omega-3 and a range of vitamins and minerals.
- It’s a good source of potassium.
- It contains phytoestrogens which can help ease menopause symptoms.
Soy milk is extremely versatile and can be used in smoothies, lattes, baked goods, sauces, and curries.
Some soy milks are laced with sugar, but sugar-free versions are easy to find. This plant-based alternative to animal and nut milks typically sells for around $2-$3 per gallon.
So as you can see, there’s such a wide range of milk choices available that there’s bound to be something for everyone. Which is your favorite? Are there any we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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