Milk: More than just something you pour into cereal
It is commonly known that a balanced diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle but a lot of people do not know how to properly find that balance. There are a lot of myths surrounding what foods are healthy, which are not, and how to eat as clean as possible. One aspect of the food pyramid that has a lot of myth surrounding it is dairy and, specifically, cow's milk. With the so many non-dairy alternatives to the cow's milk (soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.), people assume that drinking alternatives is a healthier choice than drinking cow's milk. That myth is false: when comparing the nutrition facts, both choices have approximately the same number of calories, sugar, protein, and calcium (1). The differences between the types of milk are miniscule, proving that cow's milk is just as healthy as non-dairy substitutes.
Benefits of cow's milk:
- Great protein source - Protein is important in the human body. It helps the growth and development of bones and muscles and contains important amino acids to help the body function. One glass of milk has about 8 grams of protein, which makes it an easy way to give your body the nutrients it needs (3).
- Improves bone health - vitamin calcium is essential for building strong bones because almost all of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth. Studies show that individuals who drink milk have high levels of bone mass and bone mineral density. (3)
- Heart Health - One study showed that drinking milk can reduce the risk of dying from illnesses like heart disease and stroke by 15-20%. Another study found that dairy consumption is associated with a lower number of deaths from heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and even colon and bladder cancer (2).
It is important to note that some individuals are lactose intolerant, which means that their bodies can not process the lactose into cow's milk. For these people, dairy-free milk alternatives are a great choice. Nutritionally, they contain many of the same elements that can provide the vitamins and minerals that a lactose intolerant person would not get from cow's milk. Dairy-free alternatives are a great product for those who can not drink cow's milk. Those who are not lactose intolerant can benefit from drinking the milk-free alternatives, however, one type of milk is not "better" or "healthier" than the other.