When we were kids, milk was simple: we drank it with cookies and poured it into our cereal, and it always came from cows. But a dizzying array of milk choices are available today, many of which aren't actually milk at all but come from plant sources such as soybeans, rice and almonds.
Some options, such as organic and raw milk, cater to personal dietary preferences. Others can help with health concerns such as lactose intolerance, the inability to digest the natural milk sugar called lactose.
“There certainly are a lot of varieties out there, and each one brings to the table a different nutritional profile,” said Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
“Most of these products have been fortified with Vitamin D, which makes for a more even playing field when we go to choose,” said Gazzaniga-Moloo, who is also a nutrition instructor at California State University in Sacramento. “Many nondairy alternatives do have a similar taste to milk, so for that reason they are good alternatives, especially if you have problems digesting lactose.”
How to decipher the options and decide which milk is best for you? Here's how they stack up nutritionally: