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Why use plant-based milk? Plant-based milks can be a more healthful alternative to regular milk. They contain less saturated fat (except for coconut milk) and, if they contain no added sugar, fewer calories. Some also provide as much protein as milk and most provide as much or more calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Being non-dairy, they are also a good milk substitute for people with milk allergy, lactose intolerance, or who are vegan. Plant-based milks are also more environmentally-friendly than cow's milk (See What They Are and Why to Consider Them)
What did ConsumerLab find? Lab tests showed that most products contained the nutrients they listed, but one contained only 62% of its promised calcium as well as 240% of one of its listed vitamins. (See What CL Found)
How do they taste? We focused mainly on unsweetened plant-based milks and although none of these was delicious, several were mild tasting and could be used an alternative to milk, such as in cereal or in coffee, adding creamy texture and some whiteness. The best tasting product contained added sugar (created by conversion of carbs from one of its key ingredients). (See the taste comparisons in the 2nd column of the Results table)
Which is best? Our Top Picks were not only acceptable in taste, but more nutritious than regular 1% milk. All of the plant-based milks cost more than regular milk, but our Top Picks were in the middle range.
Caution with plant-based milks: Most plant-based milks contain added vitamins and minerals. To avoid excessive intakes, particularly of calcium, limit intake to one cup at a time and no more than two cups per day, and consider cutting back on supplements that provide the same nutrients. Also check that products don't contain ingredients to which you are allergic, such as soy, almonds, and cashews. (See Concerns and Cautions)
You must be a member to get the full test results along with ConsumerLab.com's recommendations and quality ratings. You will get results for 10 milk alternatives, including soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, flax milk, hemp milk and pea-based milk.
In this comprehensive review, you'll discover:
Which plant-based milks passed, and which failed, our tests for their claimed nutrients and levels of heavy metal (lead, cadmium, and arsenic) contamination
ConsumerLab's Top Picks for the best plant-based milks based on quality, nutrition, taste, and cost
How alternative milks compare to regular milk
Amounts of fats, carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals in each milk
Which alternative and non-dairy milks contain the most calcium and vitamin D and are lowest in sugar and calories
Which alternative milks taste best and go well in coffee
Safety concerns with plant-based milks and drinking too much of them