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A Comparison of the Nutritional Value of Cow's Milk and Nondairy Beverages

Singhal, Sarita*,†; Baker, Robert D.*; Baker, Susan S.*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: May 2017 - Volume 64 - Issue 5 - p 799–805
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001380
Original Articles: Nutrition

Objectives: Nondairy beverages are advertised as a healthy alternative to cow's milk. There is an increased availability and consumption of nondairy beverages and a decrease in consumption of cow's milk. The aim of the present study is to review and compare the contents and nutritional value of nondairy beverages to cow's milk.

Methods: Information about the nondairy beverages on the shelves at stores in Buffalo, New York was collected. The Web pages of several manufacturers were assessed for product contents. The nutrient contents including the protein quality of the nondairy beverages and cow's milk were compared. The nutrient contents of nondairy beverages and cow's milk were also compared to recommended dietary allowance or adequate intake for toddlers and young children.

Results: Commonly available nondairy beverages are derived from almond, cashew, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, oat, rice, and soy. Cow's milk has higher protein content and quality compared with most of these products. It was noted that most of these beverages are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. The bioavailability of these substances after fortification is, however, not available.

Conclusions: Nondairy milk beverages vary in their nutritional profiles. These should not be considered nutritional substitutes for cow's milk until nutrient quality and bioavailability are established.

*Department of Pediatrics, Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Center, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Baystate Children's Hospital, Springfield, MA.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Sarita Singhal, MD, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Baystate Children's Hospital, 50 Wason Avenue, Springfield, MA 01199 (e-mail:

Received 10 January, 2016

Accepted 10 August, 2016

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,