Friday, July 29, 2011

Food Fact Friday: Which milk is best?

I am a huge milk lover. Always have loved it, and more recently I've appreciated it for its nutrients and protein content. Particularly since osteoporosis runs in my family, I make a real effort to get in all my daily servings. But lately I've become curious about different kinds of milk. I have a sister who avoids dairy altogether, a sister who only buys organic, and another sister who had to give it up when her baby was having issues with reflux and tried all kinds of alternatives.

I came across this article and thought that it was a great run-down on milk options and the array of health benefits. Read the whole thing for even more info.

Cow's milk
Pro: Hands down, cow's milk has the most calcium, and almost double the protein of any other type of milk. And because it comes in several types — whole, 2 percent, 1 percent or skim — that nutrition is accessible no matter which option is chosen.
Con: Lactose intolerance affects a substantial number of Americans, causing abdominal pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea. But the condition doesn't mean it's necessary to go lactose-free. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, those with lactose intolerance can typically drink up to four ounces of milk several times a day without experiencing symptoms.

Soy milk
Pro: Made by soaking soybeans and grinding them with water, soy milk is rich in protein and calcium and has no saturated fat. It also scores low in calories and comes in many flavors.
Con: Soy products can inhibit protein and mineral absorption, offsetting its health benefits.
Studies investigating soy’s role in breast cancer have yielded mixed results. Some findings suggest a substance in soy acts as a hormone in breast cells, fueling increased cancer risk.

Almond milk
Pro: Made from ground almonds mixed with water and sweetener, almond milk has become quite popular in the last several years.  It shares several properties of dairy milk: Both have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and a comparable fat content. Almond milk also has a rich, nutty taste and comes in several flavors, making it an attractive alternative for those allergic to dairy or soy.
Con: Protein is sparse in almond milk, with only 1 gram per cup, compared with 7 and 8 grams for soy and cow's milk, respectively. It's not suitable for those with nut allergies and lacks the B vitamins in cow's milk. Some almond milk has substantial amounts of sugar added, making it worth a peek at each brand's ingredient list.

Rice milk
Pro: Made from ground rice, this type of milk is very low in fat and calories. It also comes in plain or vanilla flavors and is lactose- and soy-free.
Con: Nutritionally, rice milk falls short compared with other varieties. It lacks Vitamins A and C, and contains very little protein. It should rarely be chosen thinking it's going to provide some superior nutritional health benefit, because it's not.

Organic milk
Pro: Passionate supporters of organic food and products appreciate that it was produced without growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Con: The cost of organic milk is about double that of nonorganic milk because of its perceived health benefits. But in actuality, it's not significantly healthier than typical milk, if at all.

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