Plant-based drinks in the pantry Plant-based drinks in the pantry

These are alternatives for cow’s milk when there is lactose intolerance. It is best to prepare them at home or read the labels to make sure they do not include added sugar.

Advisor: Gloria Ruiz

Much is said about soy milk: that it is healthy, that it helps counteract the effects of menopause, that it helps women’s health, and that it prevents cancer. The fact is that the consumption of plant-based drinks or milks, like this one or almond milk, has increased. But it is also true that sometimes they are attributed with properties that they do not possess or are not completely true. All of this greatly depends on the origin of the ingredients and, of course, on responsible consumption. It is therefore necessary to stay informed.

Gloria Ruiz, a nutritionist from the Catholic University of Manizales, certified in the Psychology of Obesity at the Celk Institute in Argentina and a coach on habit changing, states that in Colombia, the vast majority of soybean crops have been genetically modified with chemicals in order to produce more and therefore meet the high demand.

“One thing is certain, and that is that it has a significant amount of protein. But its highest component is carbohydrates and, in many pathologies, such as obesity, being overweight, insulin resistance, and fatty liver, its consumption must be restricted,” says the nutritionist.

According to the specialist, the properties of these drinks that can be endorsed depend on the quality of the preparation and the ingredients. For example, in the case of rice milk, if you use a whole grain, it can provide fiber and nutrients such as B-complex that help brain function. “Normally, the rice we use to make milk is white, and in this case what we are consuming is starch, which are empty calories with poor nutritional content,” she says.

What about almond milk?

This is considered a nutritious food mainly for its high content of plant-based calcium, which is assimilated and absorbed by the body, “even better than cow’s milk, which is not bioavailable and not effectively assimilated by the human body,” adds the specialist.

She states that almond “milk” has tryptophan, an amino acid that helps stabilize our mood, meaning that it positively affects our mental health, also by being involved in regulating both sleep and pleasure. The lack of this substance, among other elements, can negatively contribute to anxiety, insomnia, and stress. It is high in fiber and contains magnesium, which is important for muscle tone.

Read the labels

There are tips to identifying the quality of plant-based milks that are found in the supermarket ready for consumption. The first of them is to check the expiration date. If it is far away, it implies that it has more preservatives. It is also important to verify the components used to make it. In the nutritional content table, you can check to see if it contains chemicals, flavor enhancers, and even added sugar.

Some plant-based milk and drink presentations contain carrageenan, a compound that is counterproductive for our health, and is even associated with some types of cancer, as well as substances such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), one of the non-essential amino acids most abundant in nature that can produce the opposite effect of that sought with this type of drink. 

Regular consumption of almond milk prevents cardiovascular diseases. Its high phosphorus content makes it a super food for bones and teeth, and it provides energy. It is best to prepare it at home.

Related: Natural and complex carbohydrates