There are so many different types of plant-based milk in grocery stores. Between almond, coconut, soy, rice, hemp, oat, and the rest of the ever-growing list, it’s hard to choose which one to take home. However, when it comes down to it, it might be less about the plant and more about the product, and that’s where the experts come in.
When you’re shopping for plant-based milk, there’s one thing you should always do: Ignore the fancy, eye-catching packaging and instead focus on the nutrition label, says Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, founder of The Plant-Powered Dietitian. To help you navigate your way through all the info, these are the three most important qualities to zone in on.
1. Look for Important Nutrients
When you first scroll through the nutrition label, look for key nutrients. Particularly calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which are all important for daily function, says Palmer. While cow’s milk contains plenty of those nutrients, what you’ll find in plant-based options can vary. That’s why she says a fortified option is the way to go.
2. Avoid Added Sugar
You might be shocked at how much added sugar is lurking in your store-bought plant-based milk. Alina Petre, RD, the plant-based nutrition expert behind Veggies & More, says the best way to “reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet” it is to choose an unsweetened version. Added sugar is already common enough in other packaged foods, and the last place you want to add more into your diet is through your milk of choice.
3. Watch Out for Additives
Another thing to watch out for in your plant-based milk is additives. When you make your own version at home, there are two primary ingredients: water and the plant, be it cashews or oats. That’s why Petre says the best store-bought option is one with a short ingredients list—not a long list of weird fillers and unnecessary additives, like oils and gums, which are used to up the texture and creaminess.
TL;DR of Choosing a Plant-Based Milk
So, is there one type of plant-based milk that’s better than the other? The answer is yes, and both Palmer and Petre agree in looking for something that’s fortified in calcium and vitamin D, has a short ingredients list, and doesn’t contain any added sugar. If you keep these qualities in mind the next time you’re at the grocery store, finding your new favorite plant-based milk will be a breeze.