Got milk? You bet. Check out the grocery shelves and you can become “udderly” confused by the myriad of choices: cow, soy, rice, almond, and more.
Although milk consumption is down 19 gallons per person annually in the U.S. from where it was 30 years ago, nutrition experts say it’s still the best way to get your daily intake of calcium.
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One glass of cow’s milk packs a quarter of your daily 1,000 mg requirement. If you are over 50, your goal is 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Cow’s milk contains eight other essential vitamins and minerals. It also has the amino acid leucine, which stimulates muscle growth.
Cow’s milk is a great source of whey, a quality protein that digests quickly and easily.
Milk From Grass-Fed Cows: Best Choice
For most people, the healthiest choice is grass-fed, organic milk, says Harvard- and Yale-trained nutritionist Jayson Calton. “This is the most nutritious form of milk because it’s free of antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, and GMO components,” Calton tells Newsmax Health.
However, milk from grass-fed animals can be difficult to find in grocery stores, although health food stores often carry it.
The skim version is the best choice for people with weight issues. Otherwise, go with what tastes best to you.
Organic (non-grass-fed) milk is the next best choice, says Calton. It is higher in cancer fighting omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, and vitamin E than conventional milk. It also contains no potentially harmful growth hormones and has five times the amount of conjugated linoleic acid, which promotes weight loss.
Enhanced skim milk contains more protein and calcium than regular skim milk. Most enhanced skim milks have 10-11 grams of protein per serving, compared to 8 grams for regular skim. It tastes richer and creamier – a bonus for people who don’t want extra fat but think that regular skim milk tastes too watery. Popular brands include Farmland Dairies’ Skim Plus, Smart Balance, and Over the Moon.
Lactose-free milk is a godsend if you’re among the 6 percent of people who are lactose intolerant. It often tastes a little sweeter than regular milk.
Soy milk is made from pressed, mature soy beans mixed with water and often sugar. It’s cholesterol free and has slightly less protein than cow’s milk. It’s a good choice for vegetarians and those who are lactose intolerant.
Almond milk is made from ground almonds mixed with water and sometimes a sweetener. It’s naturally free of saturated fat, cholesterol, and lactose. It is higher in vitamin A than other milks and low in calories. Although it’s a popular choice for those who shun dairy products, it’s extremely low in protein, with only one gram per cup and has much less calcium, too.
Rice milk is made from partially milled rice, brown rice syrup, and water. Flavoring agents are also sometimes added. Like almond milk, it’s low in protein and calories. Rice milk is popular with those plagued by allergies because very few people are sensitive to rice. Look for brands fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Rice milk is also free of cholesterol, saturated fat, and lactose.
Raw milk is controversial but is starting to become popular in some parts of the country. It is unpasteurized cow’s milk and it is illegal in some states. Advocates believe pasteurization destroys beneficial bacteria and enzymes that aid in digestion. However, some health experts say that raw milk carries a serious risk of diseases caused by salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. Raw milk is often purchased directly from a farm.
Bovine Growth Hormone: Cancer Risk?
Most milk sold in the United States is from cows that have been treated with bovine growth hormone (BGH) to boost production.
BGH – banned in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the European Union – causes milk to contain more of a substance called IGF-1 or insulin growth factor, which has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
Milk with BGH is not required to be labeled as such. The only way to ensure hormone-free milk is to buy organic or milk labeled “rBGH/rBST-Free.”
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The complete version of this article first appeared in Health Radar. To read more, CLICK HERE.
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