Throughout the past few years, the alt-milk industry has been seriously booming. With more and more people preferring non-dairy options, creative dupes have been making their way onto store shelves, and the carton contents are getting increasingly out-there. While soy and nut milks will always be a vegan gold standard, coconut, oats, potatoes, rice, hemp, and flax are also bases that are are growing in popularity. And the latest ingredient to join those mock-milk heavyweight ranks? Potassium-rich Bananas.
According to NowThis, dairy-free banana milk is currently being produced by two different companies: Banana Wave, which offers a creamy banana-heavy taste, and Mooala, which is a bit more subtle. Despite being totally separate endeavors, both versions have a similar—and long!—history, originating in ancient Africa thousands of years ago. But is the fruity milk option actually healthy to drink? Well, it depends on which option you choose.
“On the whole, the nutritional makeup of banana milk is going to vary a lot depending on what the bananas are blended with. Versus a cup of, say, almond milk, the calories are higher, but you can also get more protein and fiber.” —Amy Gorin, registered dietitian nutritionist
One 150-calorie, 1 cup serving of Banana Wave contains 4 grams of protein and 18 grams of sugar (including 5 grams of added sugar) from a list of ingredients that includes banana purée, whole soybeans, and oat flour. A 60-calorie, 1 cup serving of Mooala, on the other hand, contains just 3 grams of sugar (none added), 1 gram of protein, and an ingredients list that includes organic banana purée, organic roasted sunflower seed butter, and cinnamon. “When choosing an alternative milk to drink on the daily, I would opt for one that’s higher in protein and that contains no added sugar,” Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, tells me. “On the whole, the nutritional makeup of banana milk is going to vary a lot depending on what the bananas are blended with. Versus a cup of, say, almond milk, the calories are higher, but you can also get more protein and fiber. The sugar content is also higher, and that comes both from the banana purée and the added sugar.”
When the variety is chosen wisely, banana milk can prove to be a solid vegan option for your morning smoothie and lattes alike. And if you don’t want to depend on the supermarket’s supply, you can easily make your own wholesome version by simply blending a banana and filtered water until it’s nice and creamy, says McKel Hill, RDN, founder of Nutrition Stripped and Well+Good Council member.
Keep in mind that the FDA probably isn’t going to consider this beverage “milk,” because despite the body-boosting benefits to glean from the alt-drink, the administration is currently protesting plants and other sources using the name—particularly because they don’t lactate. But no matter what it’s called, you can feel good, nutritionally speaking, about ditching moo juice for this fruity goodness—so long as you do your due diligence and read food labels closely, that is.
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