A Comparison of the Nutritional Value of Cow's Milk and Non-dairy Beverages

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Background and Objectives:

Non-dairy beverages are advertised as a healthy alternative to cow's milk. There is an increased availability and consumption of non-dairy beverages and a decrease in consumption of cow's milk. The aim of this study is to review and compare the contents and nutritional value of non-dairy beverages to cow's milk.


Information about the non-dairy beverages on the shelves at stores in Buffalo, New York was collected. The web pages of several manufacturers were assessed for product contents. The nutrient contents including the protein quality of the non-dairy beverages and cow's milk were compared. The nutrient contents of non-dairy beverages and cow's milk were also compared to recommended dietary allowance (RDA) or adequate intake (AI) for toddlers and young children.


Commonly available non-dairy beverages are derived from almond, cashew, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, oat, rice, and soy. Cow's milk has higher protein content and quality compared to most of these products. It was noted that most of these beverages are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. However, the the bioavailability of these substances after fortification is not available.


Non-dairy milk beverages vary in their nutritional profiles. These should not be considered a nutritional substitute for cow's milk until nutrient quality and bioavailability is established.

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