Cow's milk alternatives: the health benefits - including one that eases perimenopause symptoms

According to the Dairy Council, 98% of of UK households still keep cow's milk in the fridge.

But with so many alternatives now available, it's no longer just vegans or those with an intolerance trying something different. For many it's become a positive lifestyle - and a health - choice.

For example, did you know that swapping soya milk into your diet can help reduce the symptoms of the perimenopause?

Of course, there are health benefits to be gained from the various types of milk on the market. Here’s an overview – is it time for you to switch?

Soya milk

The most well-known milk substitute, soya comes closest in protein content to cow’s milk. It also provides potassium and is lower in calories, sugars andfat. Plus the nutty, creamy taste is good in cooking, on cereals and in coffee.

Soya can be a useful addition to your diet during perimenopause, too. The British Dietetic Association confirms that two to three servings of soya products a day may help reduce hot flushes, as wellas lowering cholesterol and helping to protect heart health after menopause.

Almond & nut milks

Unsweetened almond milk is a blend of nuts and spring water; it’s low in fat and has only 13 calories per 100ml.

Calcium, magnesium and vitamin E are also present, but most brands are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and B12. The subtle, sweetish taste makes it good in smoothies and on cereal.


Other nut milks are available, or you can make your own: blend one part nuts (soaked and blanched) to four parts water.

Rice & oat milks

Both are higher in calories than other plant-based milks, but still low in saturated fat. Plus they’re rich in calcium and vitamins.

Check the label, though - companies often add sweeteners to counter the bland taste.

Coconut milk

Not to be confused with the creamy milk used in Asian cooking! This thinner version is made from pressed coconut and added calcium.

It’s lower in calories and protein, and has higher levels of saturated fat than other plant-based options. A subtle coconut flavour makes it ideal for smoothies.

Cow’s milk

Despite all these healthy alternatives, cow's milk is still the UK's milk of choice, according to the Dairy Council. And who can blame us?


“Cow’s milk is a cheap, nutritious drink that’s a valuable source of protein, calcium, B vitamins and iodine,” says dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton of the Health and Food Supplements Information Service.

“Skimmed or semi- skimmed is lower in calories and fat and higher in calcium, but has less of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E,” she adds.

Organic milk tends to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids and is less likely to contain antibiotics and pesticides. '