Plant-based drinks ‘not real alternatives’ to dairy milk – study

The study, carried out by Swiss scholars and nutrition experts, analyzed the nutrient profile of 27 samples of plant-based beverages and two of cow’s milk were compared. The plant drinks, 13 of which were fortified, were collected from two major supermarkets in Bern and included soy, almond, cashew, coconut, hemp, oat, rice and pelt.

To compare nutrient and energy intakes, the researchers used the dietary reference values ​​for Germany, Austria and Switzerland and also estimated the quality of proteins by calculating the digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS). Nutrients such as vitamins C, A, E, D2, K1 and K2 were analyzed as well as phosphorus, sodium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, calcium, zinc, iodine, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and others.

Unlike similar research conducted in the past which relied on labeling information to determine nutrient content levels and only evaluated a handful of nutrients, the Swiss study investigated each product sample in a laboratory to determine its nutrient composition and quality.

Under the microscope

According to the laboratory analysis, vitamin C, A and K2 could not be detected in the measured plant-based drinks, with B2, B12 and D2 almost absent in non-fortified varieties. The researchers noted that the absence of some vitamins, such as the heat-sensitive C, B1 and A, could be down to food processing conditions. Meanwhile, plant-based alternatives offered high vitamin E content, particularly almond and soy, whilst K1 concentrations were ‘significant’ in cashew and soy drinks.

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