Which Milk Is Right for You?

A nutritional comparison of the different types of milk

Got milk? Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk... these days, there are so many milk alternatives on shelves made from nuts, seeds, and more. Curious about the differences? Here's a comparison of some of the different kinds of milk available. 


Cow's Milk

Milk (cow's)

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

With all the milk alternatives out there, it’s easy to forget about good old cow's milk. Fat-free (aka skim) milk is great if you're watching your calories, and especially if you’re watching your fat intake. The taste is mild, and it's extremely versatile. Plus, it has a solid amount of calcium and an impressive protein count. But if you’re looking to cut even more calories and/or are sensitive to dairy, you might want to check out some milk swaps.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup cow's milk (skim)

  • 84 calories
  • <1g fat
  • 101mg sodium
  • 12g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 12.4g sugars
  • 8.4g protein

Soy Milk

Soy milk

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Made from ground soybeans mixed with water, soy milk is a classic substitute for its dairy counterpart. For people who are lactose intolerant or have dairy sensitivities, soy milk is a great choice. It packs just as much calcium as regular milk, although not quite as much protein.

As far as texture goes, it's pretty creamy—definitely richer than skim milk. Vanilla varieties have a really great flavor, and they add a little something special to your cereal, low-calorie smoothies, and even baked goods. Light options, which are lower in calories, are also available. Some unsweetened types are slightly higher in calories but good for those tracking their sugar intake.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

  • 105 calories
  • 3.6g fat
  • 115mg sodium
  • 12g carbs
  • 0.5g fiber
  • 8.9g sugars
  • 6.3 protein

Almond Milk

almond milk

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Unsweetened almond milk is a favorite milk swap. It has a slightly nutty flavor, but overall it's pretty mild. Almond milk is a great choice for anyone who's sensitive to both dairy and soy. And like soy milk, it's creamier than fat-free dairy milk. It's low in calories and tastes delicious. 

The drawbacks? Some brands of almond milk are lower in calcium and protein. However, there are some varieties with added calcium and protein that are worth seeking out. To top it all off, did you know that almonds are a beautifying food?

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

  • 39 calories
  • 2.5g fat
  • 189mg sodium
  • 3.4g carbs
  • 0.5g fiber
  • 2.1g sugars
  • 1g protein

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Coconut milk is not coconut water (the liquid that comes straight out of a coconut), and it’s not the condensed stuff you buy in a can. Technically, this stuff is called "coconut milk beverage." It has a slight sweetness and a nice rich texture. Coconut milk is higher in fat compared to other milk swaps, so skip it if that’s a concern. It also tends to be low in calcium and protein.

But if you love coconut flavor and don't mind the extra fat, this might be the right choice for you. It works especially well in coffee, oatmeal, and smoothies.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup sweetened coconut milk

  • 74 calories
  • 5g fat
  • 46mg sodium
  • 7g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 6g sugars
  • 0.5g protein

Cashew Milk

glass of cashew milk

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Cashew milk is a newer milk alternative. The unsweetened type is very low in calories and some brands are fortified with calcium. But like most milk swaps, it can be low in protein depending on which brand you choose. It has a slightly nutty flavor, like almond milk, but it's even creamier. 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup unsweetened cashew milk

  • 130 calories
  • 10g fat
  • 84mg sodium
  • 8g carbs
  • 0g fiber
  • 2g sugars
  • 4g protein

Oat Milk

Oat milk

Getty Images/etienne voss 

Oat milk is another new milk alternative that has exploded in popularity. Because it's made of heart- and gut-healthy oats, it's naturally higher in fiber than other milk options. But the oat content also means that it will be higher in carbohydrates than nut milks. If you're following a low-carb diet, oat milk may not be the best choice for you. Loaded with nutrients, oat milk contains 25% of your recommended daily value of calcium.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup unsweetened oat milk:

  • 120 calories
  • 5g fat
  • 101mg sodium
  • 16g carbs
  • 1.9g fiber
  • 7g sugars
  • 3g protein

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Milk, nonfat, fluid, with added vitamin A and vitamin D (fat free or skim). December 16, 2019.

  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Soy milk. October 30, 2020.

  3. Foolad N, Vaughn AR, Rybak I, et al. Prospective randomized controlled pilot study on the effects of almond consumption on skin lipids and wrinklesPhytother Res. 2019;33(12):3212-3217. doi:10.1002/ptr.6495

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Beverages, almond milk, unsweetened, shelf stable. April 1, 2019.

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Beverages, coconut milk, sweetened, fortified with calcium, vitamins A, B12, D2. April 1, 2019.

  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Milked cashews. December 6, 2019.

  7. Tosh SM, Bordenave N. Emerging science on benefits of whole grain oat and barley and their soluble dietary fibers for heart health, glycemic response, and gut microbiotaNutr Rev. 2020;78(Suppl 1):13-20. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuz085

  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. The original oat-milk. December 6, 2019.

By Lisa Lillien
Lisa Lillien is a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of Hungry Girl, where she shares healthy recipes and realistic tips and tricks.