We often get questions from clients about plant-based milks. There are tons of options in the market, including milk made from almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, flax seeds, oats, rice, and coconut. How do we know which kind to buy?

Which Type is Most Popular?

I typed in a few different kinds of plant-based milks into Google Trends to see which milks were the most searched in the last 12 months for the Charlotte area. Can you guess which one was the most popular? Almond milk!

Popularity of Plant-Based Milks (July 2020-July 2021) 

Almond milk (48% of searches)

Coconut milk (28%)

Oat milk (21%)

Cashew milk (3%)

Soymilk (<1%)

I wasn’t super surprised because almond milk is one of the most affordable types of non-dairy milks available. It’s also thin and doesn’t have a strong flavor. But which plant-based milk is the best nutritionally? Here are some highlights from a *lengthy* review published in the Journal of Functional Foods

Nutritional Benefits of Plant-Based Milks vs. Cow’s Milk

  • More healthy fats, which helps lower cholesterol and is good for brain health
  • Fiber- especially in soy milk. Fiber slows digestion and is good for your gut microbiome (one of our favorite topics at TNT!)
  • Isoflavones- again found in soy milk. Decreases cancer risk (especially breast and prostate cancers) and helps with healthy aging
  • Phytosterols- helps lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, and modulate the immune system


Disadvantages to Plant-Based Milks

  • Less protein than cow’s milk
  • Not naturally sweet and often has added sugar
  • Stabilizers and added oils
  • Processing removes antioxidants
  • Coconut milk, hemp milk, and oat milk have unhealthy fats (although still less than 2% milk)
  • It is harder for your body to access and use some vitamins and minerals



Plant-based milks will usually indicate on the package that they contain more calcium than a glass of cow’s milk. This is true but remember that the calcium found in plant-based milks has been added through a process called fortification. Since calcium isn’t naturally found in nut milks, the manufacturers add extra. On the ingredient list, you may see it listed as “calcium carbonate.” Cow’s milk has naturally occurring calcium that is easily absorbed. Calcium in plant-based milks is more difficult for your body to access and use.


Which is Best?

I compared products by Silk, the most popular brand of plant-based milk, for price and macronutrients. Prices are from Harris Teeter for a half gallon. Nutrition information is based on unsweetened milks.


Almond Milk

30 calories

1 g carbs

0g saturated fat

<1 g fiber

1 g protein



Cashew Milk

25 calories

1 g carbs

0 g saturated fat

0 g fiber

<1 g protein


Coconut Milk

40 calories

1 g carbs

3 g saturated fat

0 g fiber

0 g protein


Soy Milk

80 calories

3 g carbs

0.5 g saturated fat

2 g fiber

7 g protein



Oat Milk

45 calories

5 g carbs

0 g saturated fat

<1 g fiber

1 g protein/ cup




The Answer:

There are health benefits to all types of plant-based milks, especially unsweetened.

Overall, almond milk and cashew milk are the most affordable and are awesome if you’re looking for a low-calorie alternative to cow’s milk. 

Soy milk has the most protein, fiber, and even contains isoflavones which can help prevent cancer. Nutritionally, it is similar to cow’s milk. I love it for post-workout! And as mentioned previously, it has isoflavones which may reduce risk of cancer.

We always encourage including as much diversity in the diet as possible for optimal gut health and to get the most variety of vitamins and minerals. If you always buy almond milk, try swapping for cashew milk or soy milk every once in a while!

Plant-Based Baking

Check out these TNT Healthy Recipes made with plant-based milk!