Well, it's happening. Dug is a Swedish brand that's, as they put it, "harnessing the power of potatoes" by launching the world's first potato milk. Their potato milk is already available to purchase in select supermarkets and online if you live in Europe, and according to Dug, the brand is on its way Stateside within the next few months. What exactly is the benefit to a milk made with spuds when there are already so many alternative milks on the market? Do we really need another one? Let's get into it.
How potato milk stacks up nutritionally compared to other alt-milks
Poor spuds aren't revered quite the same way cauliflower and kale (or in the milk category, almonds and oats) are, but let's get something straight right now: Potatoes are, in fact, healthy. One large potato has nine grams of fiber, 1,502 mg of potassium (three times as much as a banana), and 34 mg of vitamin C. Potatoes also have magnesium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, niacin, and folate.
Of course just because potatoes are healthy doesn't necessarily mean it translates to a nutrient-rich alternative milk. As dietitians preach on the reg, vegan milks are primarily made with water and just a small amount of the "milk" source. What's more, some brands add sugar and artificial ingredients to sweeten the taste and help with texture and ingredient blending.
Six percent of Dug milk is sourced from potatoes—a pretty high percentage as far as alternative milks go. The brand also added pea protein to enhance the nutritional profile and fortified it with vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid, and riboflavin. The other ingredients are chicory fiber, rapeseed oil, sucrose, acidity regulator (specifically di-and mono-sodium phosphate), calcium carbonate, sunflower lecithin, and natural flavors. Besides this "original" version, Dug also has an unsweetened potato milk and a barista one, crafted specifically for hot drinks.
A nutrient that was particularly important to the developers of Dug to include? Omega-3 fatty acids, which is found in the rapeseed oil used in the potato milk. “[Vegans] can have a hard time getting the vital fat omega-3, which is mostly found in fatty fish,” said Eva Tornberg, a Lund University professor whose research contributed to the development of Dug, said in a statement. “For them and others, the product can serve as an alternative to flaxseed and rapeseed oil or health supplements.”
When asked how she thought this potato milk stacked up nutritionally, registered dietitian and California Vegan ($20) author Sharon Palmer, RD, points to both pros and cons. On the pro side, she likes that it's fortified, providing a full 15 percent of the daily value for calcium and vitamin D. She also likes that it isn't loaded with added sugar.
What the potato milk is lacking in, Palmer says, is protein—even with the pea protein added. "It's still low with just one gram per serving," she says. To compare, soy milk has eight grams of protein per cup, oat milk has three grams, and almond milk has two. As long as you're getting your protein elsewhere in your diet, this isn't a big deal. But if you want to buy the most nutrient-rich alt-milk there is, it's worth knowing how it compares on the protein front to the others. Similarly, the potato milk only has one gram of fiber; still something, but not exactly a powerhouse source.
In general, the potato milk is pretty neutral in terms of nutritional benefit. There's nothing in it that's unhealthy and it does contain a lot of beneficial nutrients, although it only has these nutrients in small amounts. But there's another area where potato milk earns an A+: sustainability.
Which alternative milk is the most nutrient-rich of all? Watch the video below to find out:
Why potato milk is a sustainable choice
Palmer says that where potato milk comes out ahead compared to nut milk—and even cow's milk—is that it's more sustainable. "Vegetables have a significantly lower footprint than dairy foods and use far less water than nuts, too," she says. Dug claims that growing potatoes are twice as efficient as growing oats, from a land-use perspective. The brand also drives home Palmer's point about nuts requiring a large amount of water, stating that growing potatoes require 56 times less water than an equivalent acreage of almonds.
The brand also says Dug is a win over cow's milk in terms of sustainability. "If you compare dairy milk to a potato-based alternative, the climate footprint of the potato drink is significantly lower. In fact, switching to a potato-based alternative reduces the climate impact by about 75 percent," their site reads, citing data from Carbon Cloud AB.
Potatoes aren't the only plant-based ingredient healthy food entrepreneurs are turning to in an effort to create a sustainable alternative milk. Peas, barley, and sesame seeds are also being milked for similar reasons (among others).
Of course, taste is also a key factor when choosing anything you're consuming—a super important one, actually. It's one that may make or break Dug's success, especially with the alt-milk space getting so crowded. (Vegan milk, so hot right now.) But considering the combo of French fries in a Wendy's frostee is already widely beloved, there's a chance it will, in fact, taste delightful. It certainly would be a shame if milk from a spud turned out to be a dud.
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