The power of potato milk and other plant based milk - with BBC Radio WM, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Bristol
Consumers are becoming increasing aware of the potential health benefits of swapping from full fat dairy to plant based milk, such as a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Dairy is regarded as a superfood by many experts (including me!), however it doesn't suit everyone and plant based milks are great for those who suffer with lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
Dairy milk has the highest environmental footprint; greenhouse gas emissions from dairy are three times that of plant based alternatives. Dairy milk also requires nine times more land to produce.
There are currently over 20 types of plant based alternatives to dairy milk. A third of us around the world are now enjoying the plant based ranges.
Best plant based milks for additional health benefits:
Potato milk - developed in Sweden, it's just about to land on UK shelves at Waitrose. It's as nutritiously dense as cows milk, and it's a good source of protein, iron, Vitamin D and B12. The special starches in potatoes also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The texture is milky and the taste is mild, so while it doesn't sound appealing as a dairy substitute in coffee the result is good. Hail the humble potato!
Coconut and almond milk contain the least amount of calories, and less than half the calories of semi skimmed dairy. Tiger nut, rice and oat are the most comparable to semi skimmed dairy at around 50 calories per 100mls.
Hemp and soy milk - high in protein and omega 3 and 6 unsaturated fats. Hemp is also the highest on calcium.
Oat milk - naturally sweet due to its carbohydrate content and the soluble fibre makes it creamy (it's lovely in tea and coffee) and is also good for your heart.
Pea milk - contains 8 times the protein of almond milk and 50% more calcium than cows milk.
Almond milk - a tasty alternative to dairy and lower in carbs than oat milk. But watch out for added sugar!
Tiger nut or "chufa" milk - comes from a tuber which is essentially a superfood; it is high in protein and good fats for heart health.
Best plant based milks for the environment:
Potato milk - potatoes use far less land and water as they are a much more efficient and abundant crop per hectare.
Coconut milk - as the trees use small amounts of water and absorb carbon dioxide.
Hazelnut milk - relies on wind instead of bees for cross pollination so is less destructive to the species.
Legume based milks such as soy and hemp have good environmental performance where it comes to water use and carbon emissions. Hemp is naturally resistant to diseases so there is a reduced need for pesticides.
Grain based milks have varied environmental performance. Rice milk requires much more water to produce and is associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions. Oat milk in comparison is rising in popularity around the world because of its overall environmental benefits.
So what are the all-round winners in my opinion?
Oat milk is by far the best on the balance of human health and the health of the planet, it's great in coffee, and you can make it at home. Potato milk beats oat milk on environmental benefits and it's undeniably a superfood, but it's double the price so the jury is out unless you're keen to try making it yourself at home, here.
What's your experience of plant based milks - what do you put in your tea and coffee? Head on over to my Facebook page at Fiona Campbell Nutrition and have your say!
Wishing you the best in health and happiness,