In January 2018 researchers from Canada published their review of the nutrient differences between cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk. Cow’s milk is considered a complete food as it provides all the major nutrients like fat, carbohydrates and proteins. It also contains a wide range of host-defence proteins and various beneficial anti-microbial effects have been observed. The researchers’ review showed that nutritionally, soy milk is the best alternative for replacing cow’s milk in the human diet. Almond milk also has a balanced nutrient profile. However, the nutrient density and the total number of calories are not as rich as that of cow’s milk. Hence, when consuming almond milk care should be taken that various essential nutrients are available through other sources in the diet in appropriate quantities. Rice milk and coconut milk cannot act as an ideal alternative for cow’s milk because of limited nutrient diversity, but they are the options for individuals who are allergic to soy beans and/or almonds.
Vanga SK et al. How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk? J Food Sci Technol. 2018 Jan; 55(1): 10–20