College of DuPage Nursing Student Precious Gogo wrote for Healthy Lombard that it is no doubt that milk is packed with nutritious goodness. Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that may be missing from our diets. Milk contains potassium, Vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium, zinc and thiamine to name a few. Milk is also a rich source of protein that contains essential amino acids, important for growth and development (Dairy, 2021). It is believed that milk helps with bone health due to its abundance of Calcium. Despite its perceived health benefits, there are some dangers associated with the consumption of milk and dairy products.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (2021), cow’s milk has been shown to have increased health risks. One of the known harmful effects of milk is lactose intolerance. As people start to age, there are decreased enzymes responsible for breaking down lactose (a sugar found in breast and cow’s milk). Lactose intolerance is very common and affects more than half of America’s population (Health Concerns About Dairy, 2021). Consuming milk while being lactose intolerant may be a detriment to one’s health and prevent adequate calcium and vitamin consumption resulting in symptoms that impair day-to-day function. The consumption of dairy products has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer; prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer. Additionally, milk and dairy products may contain hormones and antibiotics that are fed to the cows. An example is the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) which is not beneficial to health (Health Concerns About Dairy, 2021) and is given to cows to increase milk production.
Milk Alternatives, otherwise known as plant-based milk, or ‘good alternatives’ to milk are considered safer options with health benefits and reduced health risks compared to milk and dairy products. Milk alternatives include almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, cashew milk, and rice milk to name a few. Recent Research conducted by Vanga and Raghavan (2018) shows that almond milk has a high amount of calcium and protein and vitamin D. Almond milk are also a very good sources of antioxidant vitamins; with a high amount of vitamin E and A which fulfill the average amount needed by adults (Vanga & Raghavan, 2018). In addition, almond milk contains monosaturated fatty acids which aid in weight management and could reduce low-density lipoprotein – ‘the bad cholesterol’ (Vanga & Raghavan, 2018).
Soy milk is another milk alternative that has been used for decades as a milk alternative due to its nutritional benefits. It is a very good source of protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and is low in cholesterol. Soy milk also contains isoflavone which has anti-cancer properties (Vanga & Raghavan, 2018).
Cashew milk is another milk alternative that adds needed nutrients to the diet while eliminating the ‘bad’ effects of milk and dairy products.
Milk and dairy products have many nutritional benefits but may not be the best choices in the diet and potentially detrimental to health, especially for some individuals. It may be best to replace milk and dairy products with healthy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or cashew milk. Consider Making the switch today for improved overall health.
Dairy. (2021) MyPlate U.S Department of Agriculture. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/dairy.
Health Concerns About Dairy. (2021) Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Retrieved March 18, 2021 from https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-about-dairy.
Vanga, S. K., & Raghavan, V. (2018). How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk? Journal of food science and technology, 55(1), 10–20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-017-2915-y.