In recent years, the consumption of plant-based milk has been increasingly on the rise all around the world.
This is partly due to the numerous beneficial effects it has on human health.
However, it’s also because many people have decided to follow a vegan diet either for environmental reasons, aversion to animal cruelty, or for health reasons.
For example, cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol are often associated with the consumption of meat products.
In comparison, cereals, legumes, seeds, and nuts are often recommended as part of the dietary strategy for managing these diseases.
They contain a multitude of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, and are also ideal for people who have lactose intolerance and don’t consume any dairy.
Plant-based milk substitutes are an essential part of the began diet because they’re the main ingredient in many dairy substitutes, like cheese, yogurt, kefir, ice-cream, etc.
A recent review of the literature on plant-based milk substitutes discusses the effects of plant-based milk on human health.
Let’s see what they have to say.
The different types of plant-based milk substitutes are almond, cashew, coconut, hazelnut, peanut, sesame, soy, tiger nut, oat, rice, hemp, and walnut milk.
Even though these drinks are nutritious on their own, they’re often fortified with vitamins and minerals, like calcium, vitamin A, B2, B1, B12, D2, and E to increase the nutrient content.
Nut and seed milk substitutes are abundant in antioxidants, making them effective against cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
However, even though nuts and seeds are high in protein, dietary fiber, fatty acids, and vitamins, a lot of this content is lost during processing.
For example, the antioxidant content of walnuts is found in their skins, and when they’re peeled, a very small amount of this content remains in the nut milk product.
Plant-based milk also has a lot of unsaturated and a smaller amount of saturated fatty acids.
The major fatty acids are palmitic acid and stearic acid from the saturated fatty acids, and oleic acid, linoleic acid, and α-linolenic acid from the unsaturated fatty acids.
This property gives this plant-based milk an ability to lower blood lipid levels, as well as possibly protect the brain from age-related neurodegeneration.
Plant-based milk substitutes have only recently begun to develop into a widespread industry.
There is no doubt about their health benefits, however, hopefully, their production will become even more fully optimized in the future and prevent the loss of nutrients during the process.
Resource: Aydar, E.; Tutuncu, S.; Ozcelik, B. Plant-based milk substitutes: Bioactive compounds, conventional and novel processes, bioavailability studies, and health effects. Journal of Functional Foods 2020, 70, 103975. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.103975