Is vegetable drink better than milk?

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.

Vegetable drinks and other milk substitutes

Is vegetable drink better than milk?

In general, neither vegetable drink nor milk are necessary to obtain a diet rich in calcium, provided that the diet can provide other sources of this mineral such as legumes, vegetables, or nuts and seeds.

vegetable drinks on a supermarket shelf

Photo of vegetable drinks. There are more and more options besides soy

On the other hand, it is often thought that calcium is essential for bones, but the truth is that there are many other factors necessary for bone health and these are much more determinant than calcium in the diet, starting with the activity physical or contact with the sun.

It is true that some people, for problems of intolerance, allergy, sensitivity, because they do not like the taste, or philosophy, do not drink milk and prefer to substitute vegetable drinks (also called vegetable milk).

In this case, for the food to supplement 100% of the nutrients provided by the milk, it should be enriched in calcium and vitamin D.

Are vegetable drinks better than milk?

Vegetable drinks such as rice milk, soy drink or oat drink are being consumed as a substitute for milk.

They are a source of calcium, when they are enriched (some brands are not), although they lack protein and usually have enough sugar.

Oatmeal drink

Oatmeal drink is an alternative to soy drinks for people with allergies to this legume

  • In general, it is not necessary to drink a sweet, calcium-rich liquid to have strong bones.

However, these foods rich in calcium are important to complete nutritional needs when there are high requirements or difficult to cover with diet (children, youth, menopause, pregnancy, allergy to dairy or nuts, .. .)

Is vegetable milk more natural?

There is a myth that vegetable drinks are natural, and many of them are advertised with this slogan. It is worth mentioning that, in the production of industrial cereal beverages (such as rice, oat, quinoa, etc.), enzymes are added so that they have a sweet taste. These enzymes come from bacterial cultures in laboratories.

In this case, the natural term is somewhat ambiguous, since, in the end, many vegetable drinks are purified industrial products.

sources of calcium
Foods rich in calcium. It is recommended to consume different foods rich in calcium in the diet, and not use dairy products -or vegetable drinks- as the only source of this mineral. Broccoli, cauliflower, almonds, legumes and seeds such as sesame are excellent sources of calcium. Produced by © Botanical-online.com

Is vegetable drink a good substitute for milk?

Raw and toasted almonds

Raw and toasted almonds: both ways are delicious and also very rich in calcium. Almonds are very rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, vitamin E, … Why not eat almonds as a source of calcium, instead of dairy? The two possibilities are valid!

There are different reasons why some people decide not to drink milk. In these cases, a vegetable drink can be a good substitute for dairy products in terms of their calcium content (only when they are enriched in calcium).

In addition to drinks with calcium, it is advisable to have other calcium-rich foods in the diet naturally (not enriched), such as almonds, because they contain other interesting nutrients for bones, such as proteins, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, etc.

  • A handful of almonds (28 gr) brings us
  • 80 mg of calcium
  • 77 mg of magnesium
  • and 8 mg of vitamin E (antioxidant)

alimentos ricos en calcio

The best foods rich in calcium

Difference between milk and vegetable drink

Vegetable drink and milk are different foods. A vegetable drink is a liquid similar in appearance to milk, which in many diets is used as a substitute for it.

Enriched plant drinks are not equivalent to milk because they lack protein and vitamin B12. Other foods can provide protein in the diet, but the need to take vitamin B12 supplements should be considered if other foods of animal origin are not included in the diet, to avoid megaloblastic anemia.

* More information: Difference between milk and vegetable drink

What is the best food to have calcium?

In general, it is not recommended that all the calcium in the diet come from dairy products, nor from the vegetable drink, even if they are very good sources of this mineral.

healthy diet

A healthy diet is the best guarantee of health.

What ensures correct bone health is a healthy diet that provides enough protein, calcium, in addition to other factors necessary for the fixation of calcium in the bone.

  • The ideal is to consume different foods rich in calcium throughout the day, combining vegetables and milk or vegetable drink rich in calcium.

Is vegetable milk natural? How is it elaborated?

Cereal vegetable drinks (rice drink, oatmeal drink , quinoa drink, …) are obtained by the quick cooking of the cereal. Enzymes are added to the cooked cereal paste that break down the starch chains into simple sugars (maltose, sugar, fructose, glucose, …). These enzymes come from bacterial cultures in laboratories. Afterwards, some drinks are sweetened with sugar or syrups and enriched in vitamins and / or minerals.

The result is a vegetable drink similar to milk, of vegetable origin, which mainly provides sugar and calcium (only enriched).

Due to the fact that they are of vegetable origin, vegetable drinks are considered very natural, but it could be questionable if the use of enzymes for the elaboration of these drinks is natural, or even if the addition of sugar or syrups is adequate in some cases ( not in all brands). However, the vegetable drink is an excellent calcium intake.

Processed natural foods

In many ways, whole foods are better than when they are processed, for example, in the form of vegetable drink. Following the previous example, 100g of almonds provide 455 mg of calcium (in addition to many other nutrients), while a glass of enriched almond drink provides 250 mg of calcium. However, it is difficult to ingest 100 grams of almonds daily, so the vegetable drink helps to achieve the daily requirements of this mineral.

Calcium-rich plant foods are always more nutritious than their processed foods. Vegetable drinks have lost the proteins of their source food, contain very little fiber, vitamins and minerals (except those enriched in calcium).

In other words, although a vegetable drink is a good source of calcium, you should not lose sight of the true natural sources of this mineral, such as vegetables from the cabbage group (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, …), tahini, sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts,

The calcium of broccoli is so assimilable as that of milk

Scientific studies have shown that calcium is absorbed differently depending on what food is found. The percentage of absorption of calcium from dairy products is 30%, while that of broccoli and cauliflower is 70%.

Therefore, 1 plate of broccoli is as good a source of calcium as 1 glass of milk or more, because although they contain the same amount of calcium, the one found in broccoli is absorbed more. (There is no data on the% absorption of a vegetable drink).

However, this does not happen with vegetables that contain many oxalates, such as spinach or Swiss chard. The ideal is to combine different sources of calcium in the diet.

* More information: Absorption of calcium from food

Nutrients for bones without osteoporosis

In addition to the calcium intake, other factors in the diet that affect calcium metabolism must be taken into account:

Factors that increase the

fixation of calcium in the bone

Factors that increase

calcium elimination

  • Vitamin D (sunbathing, oily fish)
  • Physical exercise
  • Diet rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, antioxidants and trace elements such as boron, …
  • Estrogens (deficit in menopause)
  • Excess of animal protein
  • A lot of salt
  • Phosphates (drinks with gas, additives)
  • Excess of refined sugar

How to obtain calcium from food?

To obtain plant foods rich in calcium, see the following pages:

Calcium in nuts and seedsCalcium in milkCalcium in cerealsCalcium in vegetablesCalcium in legumesCalcium in fruits

soy drink contraindications

Contraindications of soy drink

punto rojo More information on vegetal drinks.

Editorial
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

22 April, 2019

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Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.
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