Soya 'milk' is the healthiest alternative to cow's, new research suggests.
When analysing the four most popular non-dairy alternatives, soya was found to have the greatest nutritional profile due to its high levels of anti-cancer compounds, known as isoflavones, a study reported on the Daily Mail found.
Although trendy almond milk contains healthy fatty acids, which aid weight loss and lower so-called 'bad' cholesterol, other essential nutrients are lacking, the research adds.
Study author Sai Kranthi Vanga, a PhD student from McGill University, said:
"Consumers associate these alternatives to be a direct substitute of cow's milk which might not be true in all cases".
Cow's milk is the most common allergy affecting babies, with up to 3.5 per cent of infants suffering, however, around 80 per cent grow out of this by 16 years old.
Lactose intolerance, which occurs due to insufficient levels of the enzyme lactase in the digestive tract, affects between 15 and 75 per cent of adults, with up to 100 per cent of those of Asian or native American origin suffering.
HOW THE RESEARCH WAS CARRIED OUT
The researchers analyzed the four most commonly consumed milk alternatives.
These are soya, almond, rice and coconut.
The researchers compared the nutritional qualities of 240ml of these unsweetened non-dairy drinks to cow's milk.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OTHER NON-DAIRY MILKS?
Results further reveal that rice milk is liked for its sweet taste, however, it is very high in carbohydrates and offers little nutritional benefits.
Coconut milk, which is widely consumed in parts of Asia, helps to reduce bad cholesterol levels, however, it has no protein and is largely made up of fat.
Its nutritional values also reduce if it is stored for more than two months.
The findings also show that despite soya milk's benefits, many dislike its 'beany' flavour.
COW'S MILK IS STILL THE HEALTHIEST
Despite analysing non-dairy alternatives, cow's milk was still found to be the most wholesome drink, providing fat, carbohydrates and protein.
Past studies show drinking cow's milk strengthens people's immune systems, with infants who consume it having fewer fevers and lung infections.
Yet, pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli from milk have caused serious outbreaks around the world.
The findings were published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology.