Insider spoke to dietitians to find out which dairy or nondairy milk variety may be best for your diet and lifestyle.
Cow's milk is a great source of protein and calcium if you can tolerate lactose.
Pea, soy, and hemp milks are higher in protein than some other nondairy alternatives.
People with multiple allergies or sensitivities may want to check out rice or oat milk.
With so many different options out there, the type of milk you should drink really comes down to what health benefits you're looking for, the dietary limitations you have, and your personal taste preferences.
Insider spoke with four dietitians about the potential benefits and drawbacks of 10 different types of dairy and nondairy milk.
Here's what they think you should be drinking based on your diet and lifestyle:
Cow's milk has a lot of benefits - if you can tolerate lactose and dairy.
Cow's milk is a good source of important proteins, vitamins, and minerals, licensed and registered dietitian Lauren Smith told Insider.
One cup of cow's milk provides around 8 grams of protein in addition to high amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
But, of course, it also contains lactose, so if you're sensitive to it, it's best to look for an alternative.
Almond milk is a decent option for those on the keto diet.
Unsweetened almond milk is a great choice for anyone following a low-carb or ketogenic (keto) diet, according to Smith.
It's usually low in calories, sugar, and fat, and it's fortified with antioxidants.
However, almond milk is also low in protein.
Oat milk gives you an added boost of fiber.
Oat milk has recently become a popular plant-based dairy alternative.
It's high in fiber and beta-glucan — a type of soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol and aid in gut healing — Dahlia Marin, plant-based registered dietitian nutritionist and cofounder of Married to Health, told Insider.
However, oat milk is higher in carbohydrates and natural sugars than most nut-based milk varieties.
Pea-protein milk has a smooth and creamy taste.
Pea milk has just as much protein as cow's milk, and it has a creamy texture that other nondairy options often lack. It is also typically fairly high in potassium, and some brands have as much protein as cow's milk (8 grams per cup).
But whether or not you choose pea milk might have something to do with your taste buds. As registered dietitian Matthew Ruscigno wrote for Today's Dietitian, it sometimes has "a beany or grassy flavor."
In terms of nutrients, soy milk is the closest equivalent to cow's milk.
Soy milk is the closest equivalent to cow's milk, Sylvia North, New Zealand-based registered dietitian, told Insider.
It's high in protein, contains essential amino acids, and is often fortified with calcium for bone health.
Soy milk is also a good post-workout option because of its protein content, according to Smith. It contains 8 grams per cup — the same as cow's milk — and is considered a heart-healthy food for those at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Coconut milk is a low-calorie, nondairy option.
For those with nut allergies or sensitivities, coconut milk is a great low-calorie, nondairy option.
But coconut milk lacks protein and is high in fat and simple carbs.
Hemp milk is rich in nutrients.
Hemp milk is higher in calories than other nondairy alternatives, but it's rich in nutrients.
It's high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in brain and heart health.
Hemp milk is also a complete plant-based protein source, Marin told Insider, because it contains all nine essential amino acids.
Macadamia-nut milk is close in taste to cow's milk.
If you're looking for a nondairy milk that tastes like cow's milk, macadamia-nut milk could be your best option — as long as you're not allergic to tree nuts.
Though it's a bit pricier than most other varieties, it has a subtle buttery, nutty flavor.
It's also high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, according to Marin.
Rice milk is good for those with multiple allergies or sensitivities.
Rice milk is a good option for people with multiple food sensitivities, such as those allergic to nuts, dairy, and soy.
However, it offers little nutritional value since it is mainly rice starch mixed with water, and it may raise blood-sugar levels, according to Marin.
Cashew milk is a great low-calorie, dairy-free alternative.
Cashew milk is low in calories, carbs, and sugar, and it's usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D. However, store-bought varieties are often low in protein.
According to Marin, it's a good option for those with blood-sugar imbalances or anyone looking for a low-calorie dairy alternative.
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