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Nutrients in Plant-Based Milks

Research shows milk alternatives are not created equal.

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Plant-based milks

Plant-based milks continue to rise in popularity, and each kind—soy, almond, rice, coconut, cashew, oat, pea—offers a differing nutritional makeup. But research shows if consumers are concerned about getting enough of certain nutrients, some choices may be better than others.

A comprehensive nutrient analysis was conducted by investigators with the Institute for Food Safety and presented at the fall 2022 meeting of the American Chemical Society. Researchers used a technique called inductively coupled mass-spectrometry and found that two types of plant-based milks—pea milk and soy milk—were found to have the highest levels of four essential minerals found in cow’s milk: phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and selenium. These are micronutrients not required to be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of packages.

Specifically, pea milk contained the largest amounts of phosphorus, selenium and zinc, while soy milk had the highest levels of magnesium. At the other end of the spectrum, coconut milk contained some of the lowest levels of all the micronutrients analyzed.

See also: Oat Milk: Buy or Bye?

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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