Do you remember your Mom telling you to finish your milk when you were a kid? It was for a good reason! Milk is a great source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, which can help to build strong bones, muscles, and teeth, and it’s also a good source of filling and energizing protein. On the South Beach Diet, we recommend drinking up to 2 cups of fat-free or 1% milk on Phase 1 and up to 3 cups on Phase 2. That said, there are those who can’t drink milk because they’re lactose intolerant and don’t properly digest the natural sugar in cow’s milk, or who prefer not to eat dairy products as part of a vegetarian or vegan diet. If that’s you, the good news is that there are plenty of South Beach Diet–friendly beverage alternatives you can enjoy on all Phases. Check out the possibilities below:
Almond milk: Milk from a nut? Well not exactly. So-called almond “milk” is made from a combination of ground almonds and water. Creamy and silky, with a texture similar to cow’s milk, and nutty in taste, it’s is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, manganese, selenium, and iron, as well as fiber. Almond milk does not contain any saturated fat or cholesterol, but it’s lower than cow’s milk in protein and calcium. That’s why on the South Beach Diet, we recommend that you ideally drink almond milk in moderation and not as a substitute for dairy, unless you must avoid dairy products.
Soymilk: Soymilk is one of the most popular milk alternatives, with a protein content similar to cow’s milk. Soymilk is made from whole soybeans or soy protein concentrate. Most store-bought soy milks are fortified with calcium, vitamins A, D, and B12, and zinc. Soy milk makes an excellent addition to homemade smoothies and it can be poured over a bowl of whole-grain cereal on Phase 2. Be sure to look for low-fat, unsweetened or low-sugar, plain or vanilla (4 g or less fat per 8 oz. serving) soymilk. Avoid products that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
Coconut milk beverage: This beverage recently emerged on the health-food scene, as more research has supported the claim that the saturated fat it contains is used as energy instead of being stored as fat. Coconut milk beverage, which comes boxed not canned and is about 45 calories per cup, is made from soaked and strained coconut flesh. It should not be confused with coconut water, which is the liquid found inside a coconut, or with the highly caloric canned coconut milk often used to make piña coladas. We recommend that you stick to the unsweetened variety and enjoy up to 2 cups daily on Phase 1 and up to 3 cups on Phase 2. Store-bought unsweetened coconut milk beverage is fortified with vitamin D and B12 and calcium. But like almond milk, coconut milk does not provide the same protein content as cow’s milk, and so should not be used in place of dairy milk unless you must avoid dairy.