Plant-based milk: Benefits and Side effects
Nowadays there is an increasing demand for plant-based milk or we can say non-dairy milk. Plant-based milk is a good alternative to traditional dairy products. And also such type of milk can provide a good source of protein to those countries who are economically weak and can not afford animal based dairy products. The five basic reasons why these types of milk are so in demand are
1. Cows milk allergy
What is a cow’s milk allergy?
Cows milk allergy (CMA) is the most common type of allergy in infants and young children’s. Infants and children get allergic to two major cow milk protein namely casein and whey proteins of the milk. Two types of allergic reaction occur are IgE mediated and Non-IgE mediated allergic reactions (1). IgE mediated allergic reactions includes acute urticaria (Allergic reaction of the outer and inner skin) and angioedema (affects the skin and mucosa particularly eyelids and lips).
How to deal with cow’s milk allergy?
The best way is to avoid cows milk. Mothers who are lactating should avoid all the dairy products from their diet in order to clean the breast milk antigens this will take 72 hours. Mothers should also include calcium-rich diet in their food so that the baby can get sufficient calcium from their milk.
Infants below 6 months who are not breastfeeding are given extensively hydrolyzed formula or amino acid formula in order to deal with cows milk allergy. No plant based milk are given to infants as they are low in proteins and energy (2).
Cows milk allergy and lactose intolerance both are different. CMA is caused by an allergic reaction due to different types of proteins present in the milk. And lactose intolerance is simply intolerance to lactose and is not an allergic reaction (1).
2. Lactose intolerance
What is lactose?
Lactose is a disaccharide consist of glucose and galactose molecules. This disaccharide is the main source of calorie and is obtained from milk and dairy products. Lactose is absorbed by the intestine and it is broken into simpler molecules that are monosaccharide by the enzyme lactase (3).
What is lactose intolerance?
Deficiency of lactase enzyme results in lactose intolerance. This deficiency of enzyme lactase may be caused due to a genetic deficiency which is also known as primary lactase deficiency and other factors like secondary lactase deficiency include gastrointestinal infection, inflammatory bowel diseases or abdominal surgery and therefore about two-thirds of world’s population are lactose intolerance (2).
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance generally occurs when there is less than 50% of lactase activity. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are the pain in the abdomen, bloating due to accumulation in the intestine, diarrhea due to lactose and flatulence (4).
How to deal with lactose intolerance?
Reduce lactose rich diet is the simple way to combat with lactose intolerance and other is enzymatic treatment.
3. Vegan diet
People who prefer a vegan diet or purely vegetarian can also take plant-based milk. As plant-based milk are the best alternative of the dietary milk products although they are low in protein still they fulfill certain requirements like that of traditional milk.
4. Calorie concern
Plant-based milk, unlike the dietary products, is low in calorie. Therefore consuming plant-based milk helps in reducing the weight if you are planning to do dieting.
Plant-based milk is also low in cholesterol. Therefore is suitable for the persons having heart-related problems or hypertension. Low cholesterol milk also helps in reducing obesity, therefore, is good if you are thinking of losing some weight you can switch from dairy milk products to plant-based milk.
Types of plant-based milk
Plant-based milk as the name suggests is the milk derived from the different type of plants. Plant-based milk is again classified under following categories (2).
a. Oat milk
Oat milk is rich in antioxidants, vitamins (A, D, E, and B1), minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and iron. Low in cholesterol and lipids therefore good for weight loss and heart. Healthy for the colon and digestive system (5).
b. Rice milk
Rice milk is high in vitamin B, a good source of carbohydrate, healthy for the heart, suitable for cows milk allergy persons, and those having soy and nut allergy.
c. Corn milk
Corn milk is rich in protein like zein and is good for eyes and brain. It also contains high vitamin B complex, therefore, is good for pregnant women.
d. Spelt milk
Spelt milk is obtained from a cereal. This milk is rich in minerals like potassium, vitamins, calcium, and iron.
a. Soy milk
One of the famous, high in demand and oldest known plant-based milk. The first description of soy milk is found in Chinese culture. This milk is rich in protein, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids which are very good for the heart, rich in flavonoid namely isoflavones therefore effective against osteoporosis (2).
Side effect: Unsuitable for those who have allergies towards soya protein.
b. Peanut milk
Peanut milk is rich in vegetable proteins, vitamin, antioxidants, and minerals. This milk is also low in cholesterol, therefore, is good for the heart. Other benefits of peanut milk are that it helps in protection against cancer and diabetes and blood pressure (2).
c. Lupin milk
Lupin is low in sulfur-containing protein and high in lysine. The protein is almost the same as that of soy milk (6). Lupin milk also contains low fat and low starch therefore healthy for the heart.
a. Almond milk
Almond milk is great for those who want to stay away from heart diseases, skin problems, diabetes, obesity, and other problems. As almond milk is rich in protein, vitamin E, manganese, calcium. Almond milk also possesses prebiotic property which helps in lowering the serum cholesterol level (2).
b. Coconut milk
Coconut milk is a rich source of phosphorus and iron, therefore, is good for anemic persons. High selenium and zinc content of coconut milk help in keeping a good check on joint inflammation and healthy prostate gland (5). Other properties of coconut milk are improves digestion, healthy skin and cooling effect (2).
c. Hazelnut milk
Hazelnut milk has high antioxidant, therefore, helps in reducing the risk of cancer, heart attack, atherosclerosis and diabetes (7).
d. Pistachio milk
Pistachio milk is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, proteins, vitamin K, potassium, lutein. Magnesium present in pistachio helps in preventing cardiovascular disease, lowers the blood lipid. Low cholesterol of pistachio helps in controlling the weight. Pistachio is also effective against many inflammatory diseases (8)
e. Walnut milk
Walnut milk is rich in vitamin, antioxidant and omega 3 fats. This is again good for health and prevents diabetes and cancer.
a. Sesame milk
Sesame milk is obtained from sesame seeds and is rich in antioxidant therefore helps in preventing cancer and other degenerative diseases. Along with this sesame seeds are also low in cholesterol and antitumor and antiviral activity (9)
b. Flax milk
Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for a healthy heart, prevent cancer, diabetes, and strokes are the main component of flax milk. Flax milk is also having no cholesterol and lactose, therefore, helps in controlling weight and suitable during dieting.
c. Hemp milk
Hemp milk is rich in calcium, vitamin E, minerals. Iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin A content is higher than that of soy and rice milk, therefore, a better alternative to dairy milk and milk product (10).
d. Sunflower milk
Like other seed based milk, sunflower milk are also a good source of protein, fiber, and calcium. Rich in minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, and selenium. Sunflower milk is also fortified with vitamins.
5. Other plant-based milk
a. Quinoa milk
Quinoa milk is obtained from quinoa a type of superfood. This milk contains a high amount of proteins like methionine and lysine, essential amino acids and Vitamin B complex, E and C. Also rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphate, manganese, and sodium. Because of all these compounds present in the seed, quinoa is very similar to the milk (11).
b. Teff milk
The amino acid composition of teff is comparable to that of egg protein (12). Besides amino acids, teff milk is also rich in minerals and protein. Teff milk is also gluten and lactose-free. Teff milk also has low fat therefore suitable for dieting, persons having a gluten allergy and lactose intolerance.