While an abundance of choices can be overwhelming, there’s a bright side. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a non-dairy milk” says Amy Gannon, R.D. Knowing your priorities and reading labels closely are the keys to making a good choice. If you’re seeking protein, for instance, soy milk may be a good bet. Coconut milk, on the other hand, while low in protein and high in saturated fat, may impart a nice flavor for occasional baking projects. Rice and oat milk may be a good option for people with soy or nut allergies, but they’re high in calories compared with other milks. Scouring ingredients’ lists and nutrition labels is a must. “Even within a category, say, almond milk, ingredients and nutrient levels vary,” notes Gannon. Keep an eye on protein, fat, and carbohydrate levels, and steer clear of products with added sugars and oils. If you’re using a nondairy milk on a regular basis, keep an eye out for unfamiliar additives. Phosphates, for instance, should be avoided by people with kidney disease, and there’s some evidence that they’re risky for healthy people, too. As for flavor, says Gannon, “there are so many options, so if you try something you don't like, don’t give up.” Don’t look to non-dairy milks as a main source of nutrition. Rather, stick with whole, “close to nature” foods like vegetables, beans and lentils, whole grains, fruit, and fish.
”The fact that there are so many options out there means there’s something that works for everyone,” says Cleveland Clinic nutritionist Amy Gannon, R.D.