Low Sugar Milk Alternatives for Milk Allergy

low sugar milk alternative
Looking for a low sugar milk alternative?. Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images

Finding a milk alternative that’s also healthy isn’t as easy as it seems. Sure, the hype suggests that anything “non-milk” is better than dairy itself, but that is debatable. Plenty of research points to the health benefits of dairy, as well as its contribution to disease.

However, if you have a milk allergy, there is no doubt you’ll be looking for a healthy milk alternative. Sure, you can find milk-free calcium containing substitutes and vitamin D-rich dairy-free foods, but having a healthy milk-free alternative makes living with milk allergy a bit easier.

There are pros and cons to using milk alternatives, and one of them is the fact that many of these beverages contain high amounts of sugar. You may not be concerned with this, but many individuals with and without milk allergy are looking to curb the sweetness of their diet. Hidden sources of added sugar are a target area for cutting sugar in the diet.

To this end, I’ve scoured the Internet to find the best low sugar milk alternatives. Of course, any milk alternative that is unsweetened is an obvious bet, so I’ve listed them here. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but I’ve tried to capture some of the most mainstream, available products in the marketplace.

But before I get to the list, there are a few things I have noticed:

  • Many “original” versions contain about 6 to 7 grams of sugar per cup. This is about 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of sugar per cup, so I didn’t include them in this list. I aimed to keep the added sugar to about 1 teaspoon per cup. However, if you already have a moderate sugar diet (ie, you’re not eating dessert everyday) and/or are active, you may opt for the Original versions of milk alternatives, but always check the ingredients label.
  • Flavored versions of any milk alternative tend to be the highest in sugar content, although some brands stood out as good options.
  • By virtue of the main ingredient (ie, oats or rice), the sugar content will be naturally higher. This is because the main ingredient is a carbohydrate, which during processing is broken down to sugars. Even though these products are higher in sugar per cup, they do not necessarily contain added sugar in the form of table sugar, agave, corn syrup or other sweetener.
  • Those alternative milks that do contain added sugar contain anywhere from 12 to 28 grams of sugar per serving (3 to almost 6 teaspoons!). As I mentioned, the cut off I used here was 4 grams of sugar, which is 1 teaspoon. Because of this cutoff, many milk alternatives aren’t on this list.
  • Overall, unsweetened versions are the best bet if you’re watching sugar intake.

The best low sugar milk alternatives (listed in grams of sugar per cup)

Almond milks

Silk Pure Almond: Unsweetened (0g); Unsweetened Vanilla (0g)

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze: Unsweetened (0g); Unsweetened Vanilla (0g)

So Delicious Almond Plus: Unsweetened (0g)

Pacific Organic Almond Milk: Unsweetened (0g); Unsweetened Vanilla (0g)

Natura Almond Milk: Unsweetened (0g)

Califia Farms: Unsweetened Vanilla (0g); Vanilla (3g)

Coconut milks

Silk Coconut Milk: Unsweetened (0g)

So Delicious Coconut Milk: Unsweetened (0g)

Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk: Unsweetened (0g)

Coconut Dream Coconut Drink: Unsweetened (<1g)

Oat Milk

Pacific Organic Oat Milk: No added sugar; the sweetness is naturally occurring as a byproduct of oat processing.

Because oat is a carbohydrate source, during processing the oats (starches) are broken down to sugar. There is 19 g of sugar per cup.

Rice milks

Rice milks tend to be naturally sweet due to the processing of the rice itself.

Rice Dream: Original Unsweetened (<1g)

* A note from the manufacturer: There is no sugar added to our Rice Dream products, except in the Rice Dream Chocolate Chai and Rice Dream Vanilla Hazelnut.

Pacific Rice Milk: naturally sweet with no added sugar; 1 cup contains about 14 g sugars

Soymilks

Silk: Unsweetened (<1 g); Light Original (3g); Organic Unsweetened (1 g)

Westsoy: Organic Unsweetened Plain (1g); Organic Unsweetened Vanilla (1g); Organic Unsweetened Almond Soy milk (1g); Organic Unsweetened Chocolate (1 g)

Edensoy : Unsweetened (2g)

Trader Joe’s Organic Soymilk: Unsweetened (2g)

Hemp milks

Hemp Bliss: Unsweetened Original (0g)

Living Harvest Tempt Hemp Milk: Unsweeteend Original Tempt (0g); Unsweetened Vanilla Tempt (0g); Unsweetened Coconut Hempmilk (0g)

Flax milk

Good Karma Flax milk: Flaxmilk Original + Protein (0g); Unsweetened Original (0g)

Resources:

Various product websites

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