1. Soy milk
Yes, the best nondairy milk also is the O.G. What sets soy milk apart from other plant-based milks is its high levels of protein: 7 grams per 100-calorie cup. Protein is important when it comes to a sense of satiety (basically just feeling full), and when you’re cutting calories, that’s definitely something you want to pay attention to. Plus, there’s evidence that soy protein consumption benefits the heart. Soy milk also has vitamins A, B12, and D, and packs in just as much calcium as a cup of skim milk (300 mg).
“But what about that phytoestrogen thing?” you might wonder. “Won’t soy milk mess with my hormones?”
“That’s not true at all,” says Dr. Davis. “Soy milk doesn’t cause boobs in men, and the studies show it might be beneficial for people who have had breast cancer. You’ll get a whole bunch more hormones from a cow than you will from soy.”
Soy milk’s taste also is among the closest to dairy milk’s, so if you’re a plant-based milk n00b, that could be a plus.
When in doubt, try 'em all
Even though this ranking attempts to differentiate between the various nondairy milks, they're all probably better in the long run than dairy, and you can pick and choose to create the flavors your taste buds prefer, and the nutrients your body needs.
“I tell people to try all the different milks,” Dr. Davis says. “I counsel my patients away from animal products as much as possible. Not everyone has to be vegan, but if you choose a nut milk, you’re choosing a lower-fat, nutrient dense food -- and then I’m happy.”
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Missy Wilkinson wants to try hemp, oat, and flax milks, in that order. Follow her tweets at @missy_wilkinson.