Dr Abigail Johnson, assistant professor and associate director of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Nutrition Coordinating Center, said: “Our results provide evidence that many plant-based milk alternatives are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk,” said Johnson.
“Based on these findings, consumers should look for plant-based milk alternative products that list calcium and vitamin D as ingredients.
“They may also want to consider adding other sources of calcium and vitamin D to their diets.”
Researchers found that 76 per cent per cent of the oat-based products, 69 per cent of the soy-based, and 66 per cent of the almond-based alternatives were fortified with both calcium and vitamin D.
But only 16 per cent of the milk alternatives studied had a protein level greater than or equal to the 8g per 240ml found in cow’s milk. Soy and pea-based alternatives were more likely to have higher protein, they discovered.
The team are now planning a second study to look at the other nutrients in plant-based milks which might not be present in cow’s milk, such as fibre.
‘Not nutritionally equivalent’
“We know from our dietary assessments for nutrition studies that consumers are choosing more plant-based milk alternatives,” added Dr Johnson.
“Our findings point to a need to ensure that consumers are aware that many plant-based milk alternative products in the marketplace today are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk.
“Product labelling requirements and dietary guidance to the public are among the approaches that may be helpful in alerting and educating consumers.”
The research was presented at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition being held in Boston, Massachusetts.