Milk does a body good?
We’ve all seen the ads in various magazines: sexy athletes, musicians and actors with white moustaches and a caption that reads “Got Milk?” along with some facts about your bones and a healthy calcium intake. Humans are the only mammals who continue to drink milk after being weaned and while it’s marketed as the best source for calcium and a good source of protein is it worth it?
1 cup of skim milk contains 50% of the daily required intake of calcium (based on a 2,000 calorie diet)
This website is one of many that breaks down percentages of calcium found in many vegetables.
1 cup of broccoli rabe contains 52% of the DV*
1 cup of chopped collard greens contains 36% of the DV
1 cup of raw kale contains 14% of the DV
These vegetables and others rich in calcium are also low in calories and contain iron, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and protein among other health benefits. Vitamin D does not naturally occur in milk and other vitamins are added to lower fat and skim milks as amounts are lost when the fat content is reduced. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that contains vitamin D and it does not naturally occur in any fruits. Still regular exposure to sunlight can help the body produce vitamin D on it’s own.
*DV=Daily Value or unit of measurement for the recommended intake of nutrients and vitamins
Check your Hormones at the door
In 1993 the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) a synthetic hormone that increases milk production when injected into dairy cows. There have been studies that have shown no difference between cows who are given rBGH and those who aren’t when it comes to human health. Nonetheless the continued manipulation of growth hormones could increase insulin-like growth factor (IGF) “…which could mimic the effects of human growth hormone in harmful ways. In fact, research has found that milk from rBGH-treated cows contains up to 10 times more IGF than other milk.” Huffingtonpost
An increase in insulin-like growth factor in humans has been directly related to the early production of sex hormones, the early onset of puberty and heightened risks of breast and prostate cancers.
School children are one of the largest consumers of milk in the United States and recent outrage over the unlabed artificial sweetener aspartame added to flavored milks has only furthered mistrust in the food industries.
Aspartame is a chemical sweetener with toxic effects including digestive issues, memory impairment and even cancer. The International Dairy Foods Association has petitioned the FDA to change the standards on identifying milk in hopes of keeping aspartame off of the nutritional label on many dairy products.
Alternatives to Milk
In the last couple of years there have been many alternatives to milk on the market. Everything from soy to hemp milk is available and for many purposes it’s unidentifiable in flavor from dairy milk when its used for cooking and baking.
These alternatives are often lactose free, low in fat and high in protein, calcium and fiber. My favorite is Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze with Original So Delicious Coconut milk a close second. Most of these other types of milk are also highly comparable to dairy milk when it comes to affordability and available to the consumer in programs like Women, Infant, Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP).