Plant-based drinks should not be seen as a direct alternative to milk. This is one of the conclusions of a new study from DTU (The Technical University of Denmark). Plant-based drinks and milk products are two different food groups that do not cover the same nutritional needs.
The consumption of plant-based drinks has grown in recent years. From 2014 to 2019, sales have increased from 72 million per year to 277 million. The study cites several possible causes. There may be a belief that plant-based drinks are healthier, and also a desire exists to reduce the consumption of animal products and live more vegan. Some have lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergy. Therefore, it is important to obtain figures on the nutritional content of plant-based drinks in order to better compare with milk.
The researchers behind the study wanted to gain more detailed knowledge about the nutritional content of plant-based alternatives to milk. In the summer of 2020, the researchers collected samples of oat drink, soy drink, rice drink, almond drink, and variants of the drinks with added calcium, iodine, riboflavin, vitamin D2, and vitamin B12.
In general, there is a greater nutritional content in milk than in plant-based drinks. Another result from the study showed that also in plant-based drinks with added calcium, the calcium content was lower than in milk. In the study, conventional, semi-skimmed milk was used in the comparison.
Dairy products contribute with more than 10 percent of the total amount of protein in the Danish diet and with the micronutrients: riboflavin (vitamin B2), cobalamin (vitamin B12), calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iodine, and potassium.
Overall, plant-based drinks have a lower amount of all minerals and vitamins than milk, but soy drinks are an exception with higher levels of iron, copper and manganese, and magnesium and zinc at the same level as milk.
Furthermore, arsenic was found in rice drink – 1.5-1.8 μg arsenic per 100 g. Inorganic arsenic is carcinogenic and the EU limit values for the substance are 30 μg/l. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recommends a limited consumption of rice drink for adults and further advises that the drink should be completely avoided for children.
Read more about the study HERE