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9 Plant-Based Milks, Ranked by Protein

Keep this in mind when making your dairy-free, post-workout smoothies.

There are a number of reasons to switch from cow’s milk to plant-based milk: lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, reducing your intake of saturated fat, a vegan or plant-based diet, or just taste preference, to name a few.  

The nutritional profile of each type of plant-based milk varies quite a bit. Not everyone who switches to plant-based milk cares how the nutrition panel compares to cow’s milk, but some do. If you’re in the second camp, there’s something you need to know: While most plant-based milks have equivalent amounts of calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk does, some have little to no protein.

Keep in mind that there are many ways to get enough protein without having a glass of cow’s milk, and in fact, many Americans get twice as much protein than necessary. That said, if you want your plant-based milk to be a source of protein for you, you should know how these nine dairy-free milks rank.

  • Flax milk has 0 g of protein per cup. You’d expect a milk from seeds to provide protein, but no such luck. However, you can find 1.5 g of healthy polyunsaturated fats in this milk.

  • Coconut milk has 0.5 g of protein per cup. Beware that coconut milk is also one of the few plant-based sources of saturated fat. However, if you’re not eating meat or dairy (which are the main sources of saturated fat in most Americans’ diets), coconut milk is probably OK for you.

  • Rice milk has 0.7 g of protein per cup. It may be measly in protein, but rice milk does offer a gram of fiber (which cow’s milk does not). 

  • Almond milk has 1.5 g of protein per cup. This popular plant-based option is very low in calories, with just 35 calories per cup in the unsweetened variety.

  • Oat milk has 2 g of protein per cup. It’s also a source of fiber. Here are more health benefits of oat milk.

  • Hemp milk has 3 g of protein per cup.  A cup of hemp milk also has 3.5 g of polyunsaturated fat and 0.5 g of monounsaturated fat.

  • Cashew milk has 4.5 g of protein per cup. This nutty milk also has 1.5 g of fiber and 10 percent of your daily requirement of iron per cup.

  • Soy milk has 6.5 g of protein per cup. Turns out, the original plant-based milk is also one of the healthiest. It’s not just high in protein: It’s also got 0.5 g of fiber and 3 g of unsaturated fat per cup.

  • Pea milk has 8 g of protein per cup. Haven’t heard of pea milk? A few years ago, it was actually showing promise as the next up-and-coming plant-based milk—until oat milk came along and stole the show. Currently, Ripple is the only major brand offering this unique milk made from pea protein, but if protein is your wish, this milk is the way to go.

Each plant-based milk has its own perks (and drawbacks), and of course, protein isn’t the only nutrient that matters. For a healthy diet that is sustainable for you, it’s also fair to consider the flavor and cost.

Want more dairy-free tips?

Duration: 1:21. Last Updated On: Oct. 24, 2019, 4:50 p.m.
Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: Oct. 24, 2019
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