Dairy products are a staple part of most people’s diet plans, but for type 2 diabetics it can be a grey area. Finding low-fat, low-sugar milk alternatives is crucial for a healthy, protein-packed diet – something many non-dairy products can offer. While plant-based milks are often viewed as the ‘healthier option’, not all products are created equal when it comes to sugar and fats – but which ones are the best to manage type 2 diabetes?
Should diabetics consume dairy?
Sales of plant-based products have soared in recent years, with veganism and sustainable dieting on the rise.
Managing type 2 diabetes is yet another reason for many Brits to make the switch, but there are a few things to look for when choosing the right dairy replacement.
GP Dr Sarah Brewer said: “Like any other food, dairy will affect your type 2 diabetes in either a positive, neutral, or negative way.
“You can check the impact that an individual dairy product will have on your blood sugar levels by checking the product’s glycemic index, and by measuring your blood sugar before and after you consume your dairy products.”
Which plant-based milk is the best for type 2 diabetics?
The key to managing type 2 diabetes is to lower the body’s blood sugar levels in order to prevent heart disease, clogged arteries and hyperglycaemia.
While most non-dairy milks are generally lower in fat than cow’s milk, the sugar content remains concerning for type 2 diabetics.
According to Dr Brewer: “Sugar-free milk is the best alternative, however plant-based milk that is low in sugar, like almond or soy milk, can be a healthy addition to your diet as well.”
Almond milk has a high water content because of the way this nutty plant-based product is made.
Dr Brewer says: “It may be suitable for pre-diabetic and diabetic individuals, but again, make sure to choose unsweetened or sugar-free products with limited to no chemical additives.”
Rice Milk has a naturally sweet taste and is often more palatable than soya milk.
It’s a thinner consistency than soya milk, though it is higher in carbohydrates as it is made from a grain.
Always buy no added sugar or unsweetened rice milk to stabilise your blood sugar.
Made from a grain, oat milk is slightly more indulgent in terms of its nutritional value than other dairy-free alternatives.
Oat milk has a higher carbohydrate content than soya milk which is renowned for its protein content.
On the whole, oat milk isn’t a bad choice for type 2 diabetics – but almond and soya milk offer a lower carbohydrate option.
Unsweetened oat milk is a good option for soya intolerant or nut allergy patients as it provides more calcium than oat milk while supplying the body with 10 minerals and 15 essential vitamins per glass.
How to safely consume milk as a diabetic
Regulating your blood sugar and keeping insulin levels low can be done while enjoying milk products, said Dr Brewer.
Being vigilant with product information and making the healthiest choices will go a long way in managing type 2 diabetes.
Some key tips for enjoying milk as a type 2 diabetic include:
- Choose a low sugar product
- Opt for skim and fat-free plant-based milks
- Use almond or coconut milk where possible
- Always check the label before drinking – each manufacturer has different nutritional standards