Person holds glass with rice milk

14 Interesting Facts About Rice Milk

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Rice milk has become a popular dairy-free milk alternative for those with food allergies or dietary preferences like veganism. Made from milled white or brown rice and water, rice milk has a naturally sweet taste and creamy texture. Read on for 14 fascinating facts you may not know about this grain-based beverage.

Nutrition Profile

  1. Rice milk is naturally lactose-free. Unlike dairy milk, rice milk does not contain lactose or galactose sugars, making it safe for those with lactose intolerance or galactosemia.
  2. It’s lower in protein than dairy milk. Rice milk contains 0.1-1 gram of protein per cup depending on the brand. While not a significant source of protein, some brands are fortified with extra protein.
  3. Most brands are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Many rice milk, like cow’s milk, are fortified with vitamins A, D, B12, and calcium to better meet nutritional needs, though amounts vary across brands. Check the nutrition label.
  4. On its own, rice milk is high in carbohydrates. An 8-ounce glass contains about 120 calories and over 20 grams of carbohydrates, mostly from rice starch, emphasizing the need for vitamin fortification.

Taste and Uses

Brown rice pudding with nut milk
  1. Rice milk has a naturally sweet taste. The grain’s starch breaks down into sugars during processing, making it the sweetest non-dairy milk without any added sweeteners. Kids love it!
  2. It won’t curdle in hot drinks. Unlike dairy milk, rice milk won’t separate or curdle when frothed or steamed, so it’s great for lattes, hot chocolate, chai tea, and other heated beverages.
  3. Most brands are shelf-stable. Because the final product is cooked to remove enzymes, most commercial rice milk can be stored at room temperature unopened. Once opened, refrigeration extends the expiry date.
  4. It’s thin compared to cow’s milk. Rice milk has a thinner consistency closer to skim or 2% milk. Shake containers before pouring to recombine the liquids and solids. The texture takes some getting used to for some long-time dairy milk drinkers.

Production and Sustainability

  1. Brown rice milk is more sustainable. It takes more brown rice to produce an equivalent amount of milk, but brown rice is typically grown more sustainably through organic, low-water-use farming methods.
  2. Most major brands are gluten-free. Rice milk is a naturally gluten-free grain option, but check labels since some facilities also process dairy or soy, or may add questionable thickeners or oils. Certified gluten-free products give assurance.
  3. Rice milk requires less water to produce than almond or soy milk. Compared to other popular plant-based milks, rice milk has one of the lowest water footprints based on the water usage requirements of rice farming.
  4. Rice milk generates fewer greenhouse gases. Rice cultivation releases methane, though rice milk still compares favorably to dairy milk for lower net greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage.

Potential Concerns

  1. Rice milk contains higher levels of inorganic arsenic. Since rice naturally uptakes more arsenic from soil and water than other grains, rice-based products tend to contain more inorganic arsenic than other grains. Moderate consumption is key.
  2. It’s not an ideal milk replacement for toddlers or kids. Unlike fortified soy or pea protein milks, rice milk is low in protein and fat required for proper growth and development in young children. Check with your pediatrician if considering rice milk for kids.

Key Takeaways on Rice Milk

  • Rice milk is a popular dairy-free, vegan-friendly milk made from milled rice and water.
  • It’s naturally sweeter than dairy milk with a thinner consistency and won’t curdle when frothed or heated.
  • Rice milk is lactose-free and gluten-free but lower in protein. Check if vitamins including calcium are added.
  • Brown rice milk has sustainability benefits but may be more expensive. Best practices limit arsenic levels through testing and breeding.
  • Rice milk isn’t nutritionally ideal for toddlers or kids due to lower protein. Adults can enjoy it moderately as part of a balanced diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rice milk good for you?

In moderation, rice milk can be part of healthy diet, especially for those avoiding dairy or soy. It’s low in fat and sodium but lacks protein. Check brands for added vitamins and minerals.

What does rice milk taste like?

Rice milk has a naturally sweet, creamy flavor. It tastes similar to skim or 2% dairy milk but with a thinner, more watery consistency. Flavored varieties are even sweeter.

Can toddlers drink rice milk?

Rice milk is low in the protein, fat, vitamins and minerals growing kids require. It’s not recommended as a dairy milk substitute for children under 4-5 years old. Check with your pediatrician.

Is rice milk bad for you?

Rice milk is safe for most healthy adults to consume in moderation. It contains trace levels of inorganic arsenic from rice but likely poses little harm at typical consumption levels if the rice is grown properly.

Is rice milk fattening?

Rice milk is one of the lowest calorie and lowest fat milk alternatives available. An 8-ounce glass contains about 120 calories and just 2.5 grams of fat. It’s a smart choice if watching your weight.


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