The Attack on Dairy Part 2

Yesterday I told you about the good things in milk.  The nine essential nutrients found in milk are calcium, protein, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin D when fortified.

Today I would like to explore the myths scare-tactics I have seen recently on my social media news feeds.

Scare Tactic #1: Milk has the same calorie load as soda.   A cup of of reduced fat (2%) milk has 122 calories and a twelve ounce can of soda has 136 calories.  That’s true- but milk has 37 empty calories where soda has 126 empty caloriesEmpty calories are calories consumed with no nutritional value.  The empty calories in soft drinks mostly come from excess sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  The empty calories in milk come from the milk fat.  If you chose skim milk, the amount of empty calories would be zero.

I realize that not everyone drinks 2% milk.  Here are the calorie counts of other milk options: one cup of skim milk provides 83 calories with zero from fat; one cup of 1% milk has 102 calories, 18 of those from fat; one cup of whole milk (most likely to be fortified with vitamin D) will give you 149 calories, 63 from fat.

I actually saw one “shock photo” on Facebook that claimed a glass of milk contained 300 calories.  What size glass are they using?  Even with whole milk, that would be two glasses worth of calories.  I say this to illustrate the point that we all need to ask “Who is distributing this information?” and “Why?”  The profile distributing this particular bit of info is actually a company that produces vegan products.  They stand to make a profit if people decide to switch from dairy milk to a vegan alternative.

Scare Tactic #2: High milk consumption is linked to higher rates of type 1 diabetes.  What counts as “high?” The USDA recommends that Americans consume 24 ounces of milk per day- that’s three cups. This scare tactic never really comes forward with its true meaning. How many cups is considered high? I would assume that “high” meant more than recommended. I would also go out on a limb and assume that people who regularly consume more milk than the recommended amount also consume more of other foods than the recommended amount. It is very likely that higher rate of type I diabetes is more linked to excess calorie consumption than milk consumption.

Side note: I could not even find the original source of this claim.  When I clicked the link I was taken to a blog that says they share interesting things found on the internet.  So, basically it linked back to someone who didn’t actually write it, and probably didn’t know who the original source was.

Scare tactic #3 No other animal consumes the milk of another animal, or consumes milk into adulthood. Well, no other animal walks completely erect on two legs, either.  The human body needs the calcium so readily available in milk to make sure that our skeletal systems can support the weight of our bodies in an upright position. That makes us different from other animals. Also, I’m not sure other species wouldn’t drink the milk of another animal. (Dogs and cats will drink cow’s or goat’s milk when offered.) It’s just that humans are the only animal that has been able to procure milk from a different species on a regular basis.

Scare Tactic # 4 One third of adults are lactose intolerant.  An enzyme called lactase is required for the breakdown and digestion of lactose found in diary products.  It is true that the body’s production of this enzyme slows down, and for some, stops in adulthood.  This is not true for everyone.  If you are lactose intolerant, you should not consume lactose. BUT lactose intolerance does not decrease the need for the nine essential nutrients listed above, and the fact that my neighbor is lactose intolerant is not really a valid reason for me to conclude that milk is bad. For those who are lactose intolerant, there are lactose free milk-substitutes. They cost quite a bit more than milk, and in my opinion, do not taste very good.

I have compared dairy milk to some of the milk alternatives out there, focusing on the nine essential nutrients found in milk:

milk subsWhat you choose to consume is up to you, but it is important to know the truth. The information in the table above is generic. Each different brand of milk alternative will have slightly different ingredients and nutrition facts.The main ingredients of these milk substitutes (soy, almonds, and coconuts) do not naturally contain all of the nine essential nutrients that milk has, so you should read the labels before making a decision. If you are not familiar with nutrition labels, check out my friend Amanda’s blog on reading nutrition labels.

Milk really does do a body good.

Source for calorie content of milk: http://www.choosemyplate.gov

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One thought on “The Attack on Dairy Part 2

  1. It has been brought to my attention that my figures on coconut milk are not correct. I got all of my nutrition information from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodtracker. The information on coconut milk was taken from the only option available in that particular database, but it may not actually be a coconut milk beverage. It may be referring to a more condensed form of coconut milk. That is why I encourage all of you to read the labels on these products before you purchase them. I apologize for any confusion.

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