What Exactly Is Potato "Milk"—and Is It Healthy?
If we've learned anything from the Swedes in the past few years it's that they know how to make some fabulous non-dairy beverages. Oatly, a Swedish alternative milk brand that became an instant hit in Europe and the U.S., was the first to pulverize oats into what's now the trendiest of all alternative milks, and many of us simply can't imagine ordering anything else in our morning lattes. Now Dug, a potato-based milk brand that's also from Sweden, seeks to be the latest innovator in the category—and the most eco-friendly, too.
Potatoes are an incredibly sustainable crop—much more so than soybeans, almonds and oats. Growing potatoes is also a much more sustainable venture than dairy, according to Dug's website. Potato crops are water-efficient, which also makes them weather-hardy, and the site boasts that its potato milk has a 75% lower climate footprint than dairy milk. Plus, potatoes are packed with nutrients from fiber to vitamins and complex carbohydrates. While this all sounds great, is potato milk any good? And is potato milk healthy? Let's take a look at the specifics.
What Is Potato Milk?
Potato milk is just that: a creamy, milk-like beverage made from potatoes, similarly to the almond, oat, soy or coconut milks that have since filled up the dairy aisle. But Dug's roots (get it?) are based on scientific research, according to the brand's website, and the product features a patented emulsion technology that utilizes potatoes and rapeseed oil to give the product a supposedly "perfect" texture that will keep the milk curdles away in your cup of tea or coffee.
Dug seems to be the only player in this specific category at the moment and features three flavors: Original, Barista and Unsweetened. While the brand is only available for purchase in Sweden and the U.K, there are plans to expand if things take off across the pond. So while we haven't gotten our hands on a bottle quite yet, we did take a look at some of the Amazon UK reviews for Dug. Overall, there were mixed thoughts on the deliciousness (or lack thereof) of the potato milk, though many noted it was a great milk to use in coffee. However, several of those users mentioned they still preferred Oatly or oat milk in general as their non-dairy beverage of choice.
Is Potato Milk Healthy?
Now that we've seen what potato milk is made of, let's check out those nutrition facts. It's important to note that these numbers are for 100 ml of potato milk which is close to the equivalent of a half-cup serving. The nutrition facts for most milks in the U.S. are listed per 8-ounce, or one-cup serving, so you'll want to double those to be able to properly compare them to a favorite alternative milk brand found in the States.
100 ml (about 1/2 cup) of original flavor Dug potato milk has 39 calories, 1.5 grams of fat (0.1 grams of which is saturated), 4.4 grams of carbohydrates (1.8 grams of which are from added sugar), 1.1 grams of fiber and 1.3 grams of protein. In terms of micronutrients, a half-cup of Dug offers 15% each of our daily needs for calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin and folic acid.The barista and unsweetened varieties are both a bit higher in fat, while the unsweetened has less added sugar and thus fewer carbs.
If you double the nutritional numbers of Dug Original to get close to an 8-ounce serving, they line up pretty nicely in comparison to other popular plant-based milks, like oat and almond. However, Dug's potato milk has less protein than soy or cow's milk, which usually offers 7-8 grams per cup. There are also some other questionable ingredients on the list.
Here's what's listed on the ingredient label: Water, Potato (6%), Maltodextrin, Pea Protein, Chicory (Vegetable) Fiber, Rapeseed Oil, Fructose, Sucrose, Acidity Regulator (Di-and Mono-Sodium Phosphate), Calcium Carbonate, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Natural Flavor, Vitamins (D, Riboflavin, B12, Folic Acid).
Most of the ingredients listed here are food additives and don't offer the same benefits as obtaining fiber and vitamins naturally. Plus, ingredients like maltodextrin and di- and mono-sodium phosphate are highly processed and may have a negative effect on sensitive tummies—as well as other health consequences.
"I'm all for getting in more vegetables wherever you can, but it's important to note that potato milk (like other non-dairy milks) is a highly processed food," adds Jessica Ball, M.S. RD and associate nutrition editor at EatingWell. "If you are sensitive to dairy or prefer non-dairy milks, they can be part of a healthy eating pattern. But if you enjoy cow's milk, there is no need to switch to a non-dairy alternative like potato milk. Plus, non-dairy milks are often more expensive and less accessible."
The Bottom Line
Potato milk is an exciting new frontier, particularly from a sustainability angle, and we always love trying new products. However, we do hope Dug and any other potato milk competitors that pop up on the market can find more natural approaches to production as it becomes more widely available.