Is milk a healthy choice?

Is milk really healthy, or is there a better alternative? Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk… the choice seems endless, so how do you know which is the best choice for you? The answer is not clear cut, as everyone is different. For some, cow’s milk adds an important source of calcium and protein to their diet, but for others it can be difficult to digest, so it’s working out what is best for you.

Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk is a good source of protein and calcium. Studies show that organic cow’s milk has significantly higher levels of omega 3 fats, as well as increased vitamin E and iron levels, but slightly less selenium and iodine. The higher levels of omega 3 fats could be because of what the cattle are fed, as grass fed cow’s tend to yield milk with higher omega 3 fats.

Conclusion… choose organic cow’s milk. 

Skimmed, semi or full fat milk?

Surprisingly, it seems that our penchant for low fat dairy produce may not be the healthy choice. Choosing low fat milk means you are missing out on fat soluble vitamins like A,D and E. Recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that folk who opt for the full fat version were less likely to be overweight or obese.

Another 15 year study by Tufts University looked at 3,333 people aged between 30 and 75. Researchers found that people with high levels of full-fat dairy in their diets had a 46% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who had low levels of dairy fat.

Our obsession with calorie counting and all things low fat has lead to an increase in our intake of sugar,  artificial sweeteners and processed foods, our waistlines are expanding and type 2 diabetes is in on the increase.

Conclusion… choose full fat dairy products. 

What about raw milk?

There is a revolution going on in farms across the land. The milk we buy in our local supermarkets has been pasteurised and homogenised, but many farmers and nutritionists believe that raw milk is a superior choice in terms of taste and nutrition. Raw milk tends to be easier to digest and one study found that 99% of people who suffered gastrointestinal discomfort when drinking pasteurized milk, could drink raw milk without any problem. Could this be as a result of higher levels of the lactase enzyme needed to break down lactose, or a better balance of beneficial bacteria in raw milk?

Conclusion… raw milk holds promise for people with a dairy intolerance. 

Soya milk

 

Soya tends to be a genetically modified crop that has been sprayed extensively, but even if you opt for the organic version, you are not doing your health a whole lot of good. Despite soya’s healthy image as a hormone balancer, it is one of those foods that has a huge amount of misunderstanding around it. The health benefits of soya are based on the traditional Asian diet, where the soya products tend to be fermented – things like tofu, miso or tempeh. Here is the West we prefer soya milk and soya yoghurt, this stuff is hard to digest, with soya being one of the most common allergens in the UK.

Conclusion… there are better non-dairy milk choices.

Nut milk

Almond, hazelnut and coconut milk are becoming more popular than ever as we adopt a healthier, plant-based diet, but are they a healthy choice? As all things, some are better than others. Apart from nuts and water, you will find some sunflower oil, salt, stabiliser and emulisfers in there too. Read the label and choose one that has as few ingredient as possible, and always make sure you recognise all the ingredients. This one is my favourite.

Conclusion… read the labels!

The information and materials contained in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing medical advice.