Good or Bad? Study Says Plant-Based and Cow’s Milk are not Nutritionally Equal

Editor’s Note: AAHPO Board Member and nutritionist Knarig Khatchadurian, PhD has reviewed the article below, and has made this comment: “I agree with the American Society for Nutrition and the study described below. Nutrient contents are not the same. Consult with your nutritionist or health care provider to determine which products are best for your nutritional needs.”

The plant-based milk market is exploding, offering beverages made from seeds, nuts, legumes, grains and blends of those ingredients, often marketed as ready replacements for the traditional choice of cow’s milk.

However, not all of those plant milk options are fortified to meet the levels of various nutritional ingredients contained in dairy, according to a new unpublished study presented Monday in Boston at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

The study analyzed nutrition labels and ingredients for 233 plant-based milk products from 23 different manufacturers and found only 28 of the beverages had as much or more protein, vitamin D and calcium as cow’s milk.

“About half were fortified with vitamin D, two-thirds were fortified with calcium, and nearly 20% had protein levels similar to cow’s milk,” said lead study author and registered dietitian Abigail Johnson.

“I’m not seriously concerned about this as it’s easy to get these nutrients from other sources, and cow’s milk certainly isn’t perfect and infallible,” said Johnson, who is assistant professor and associate director of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Nutrition Coordinating Center in Minneapolis. “But if a consumer thinks plant-based milks are a one-to-one substitution for dairy, many of them are not.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *