Coconut milk is the oldest form of plant-based milk from India and Southeast Asia. Soy milk was discovered in 1365 in China. Today, many forms of plant-based milk are available including almond, rice, and oat. So how are they made?
Growing and harvesting conditions can greatly affect the final product. Climate, soil, other vegetation and storage of harvested products are crucial to the final product.
Two methods are used, a wet or dry processing method. The wet process involves soaking the product up to 12 hours to soften the product. Then they are rinsed, drained, and ground into a puree or paste. Enzymes may be added to improve grinding and texture. The liquid is heated and homogenized to inactivate enzymes and reduce separation. Dry processing involves milling first, then the protein is isolated or concentrated to make a beverage.
Finally, water, flavors, vitamins, minerals, and stabilizers or thickeners are added. The entire product is heated for safety.
Many of these beverages are being used in blends such as with coffee to meet market trends.
Have you seen the television commercials about A2 milk? Do you wonder, what is A2 milk? Is it better for me?
All milk contains beta casein protein which has several variants. The two most commonly found are A1 and A2. Certain breeds of dairy cattle only produce A2 beta casein proteins. In general, those breeds include Guernsey, Jersey, and Asian herds. Human milk and other animal milk also mostly A2. Holstein milk has both A1 and A2.
So what’s the big deal about A2 milk? Research is very limited, but some claims say that milk containing A1 leads to Type 1 Diabetes, coronary heart disease, and maybe, schizophrenia and autism if immune deficiencies are present. Some claim that A1 is digested differently than A2 and causes negative health effects.
Scientifically, the evidence is very limited. Only rat studies have shown any benefit of consuming A2 milk. Human clinical studies have not shown evidence to match the rat studies. Therefore, the information to show benefits of A2 milk are anecdotal. Also, those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies will not benefit from A2 milk.