Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives

2016 saw the rise in excitement around vegan and raw menu options. With this has come a boom in plant-based alternatives to common dairy products. 

 

Why plant-based dairy alternatives will be trending in 2017

With more and more of the population suffering from lactose intolerance and allergy symptoms ranging from digestive issues to hives and life-threatening anaphylaxis, delicious dairy alternatives are becoming much more common and easier to find at your local CHFA Member health food store.

From nut beverages to coconut yogurt and soy-based ice cream, more dairy-free alternatives are becoming available in 2017, and deliver on both taste and nutrition.

What are the health benefits of dairy alternatives?

Many of these substitutions can be used in your favourite recipes as dairy substitutes, plus you get the added benefit of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre, while staying low in calories and saturated fats.

How you can incorporate dairy alternatives into your 2017 healthy habits

Almond-, hemp-, soy- and coconut-based dairy alternatives have been around for years, but newcomers to the market include many other options, from flax seeds to hazelnuts and cashews. These are super creamy without lots of added calories. Many of these also serve as great sources of calcium and are naturally lactose-free, in addition to providing healthy doses of vitamin A, D and E, with virtually no saturated fat or cholesterol. These benefits make them great dairy alternatives for those with heart problems or at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Other than being straight-up delicious, coconut yogurt has a rich nutrient profile and an added incentive for those with digestive issues: being lactose-free can significantly help your digestive health if you suffer from intolerance. Coconut also contains other benefits, such as antibacterial properties that help to balance gut bacteria and rid the gut of toxins to improve both your digestive and immune health. As a potent source of MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), coconut also provides short-chain fatty acids that aren’t stored as fat, but used as energy to stimulate your metabolism.

For those who love the creamy experience of milk chocolate, but would prefer a non-dairy option, don't be dismayed. A number of new products are available at your local CHFA Member health food store that will satisfy your sweet tooth. For instance, chocolate makers now offer nut-free and dairy-free chocolate options. This is being driven by innovation in the industry, with new and exciting natural ingredients with health benefits being used to achieve the same delicious taste and texture of milk chocolate. Visit your local CHFA Member health food store to explore dairy-free chocolate options.

The final category receiving an overhaul in 2017 is cheese and spreads. A number of exciting new options are coming to store shelves. These are a great alternative to cheese that doesn’t upset the gastrointestinal system, and still taste delicious. Sprinkle it shredded and it works perfectly on pizza, garlic bread, penne — you name it. You can even find rounds of cheese made from nuts that are dairy- and lactose-free but will have everyone at your dinner party coming back for more. Many of these products are not only dairy-free, but are also gluten-free, suitable for vegans, and have lower overall levels of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.