Milk, and its alternatives

Donovan GRANT

Monday, November 05, 2018

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Dear Donovan,

Is there anything wrong with drinking full-cream milk? I've noticed a lot of varieties on the market for different milk products, but I prefer the taste of full-cream. But could this make me fat? Is organic milk better? Is soy milk a safer alternative? What about other dairy products? What is safe for daily ingestion?

Milk is a nutritious, white liquid that is sold commercially for human consumption. It is usually sold in the full-cream, skimmed or low-fat varieties. Full-cream milk, also known as whole milk, is the form we get from dairy cows without alteration to its content. Skimmed milk has all of its fat removed, and low-fat milk, much of the fat.

Most people find full-cream milk to be richer, creamier, more filling, and better tasting than low-fat milk. However, full-cream milk contains about five grams of saturated fat per cup serving, which is about 20 per cent of the daily limit. It is, therefore, important for people at risk for cardiovascular disease to take note of this. In addition, full-cream milk contains about 149 calories per cup. This is more than low fat milk which is about 83 calories per cup. It is therefore important to watch your intake of whole milk in tea, coffee and cereal, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Cow's milk also contains significant amounts of oestrogen and other hormones which researchers believe could lead to hormone dependent cancers such as breast and testicule cancer. However, it should be noted that these hormones present in milk tend to bind to fat, therefore drinking low fat milk would be better in this regard.

Note that in the United States, some hormones approved by the Food and Drug Administration have been used to increase milk production. There are concerns, however, that the remains of some of these hormones may cause some health risks. Drinking organic milk could be helpful in this regard.

Organic milk is produced from cows that have never been treated with hormones. In addition, organic milk is usually produced from cows grazing on open pastures, as opposed to feeding pens. Advocates for organic milk suggest that organic milk may have healthier fats which may be better for the health.

In your case, if you are only trying to prevent yourself from gaining weight, low-fat milk, rice milk and almond milk would be better. All these have fewer than 100 calories per cup. However, other factors like other foods and drink that you are having with your milk have to be taken into consideration.

At the end of the day, whether you put on weight would be a function of your overall calories. If your calories go up either by an increase in food or lack of activity, there is a always the chance that the extra food or calories could be stored as fat. Milk also has a fair amount of cholesterol and if you are prone to high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, you should take that into consideration.

As we grow older there is the tendency for us to become lactose intolerant and get diarrhoea after drinking milk. At this stage, other products such as low-fat yoghurt and cottage cheese might be better to consume than milk.

All the nutrients found in milk can be obtained from non-dairy sources. Soy milk may be a good substitute for cow's milk — it has no cholesterol and also has good protein, minerals and vitamins. However, the judgement is still out on whether it interferes with the hormone levels.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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