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Think Before You Drink: Why Milk Might Not Be the Best Choice

healthfooddrinkmilkHealth & Wellness • 3 min read • Nov 5, 2014 12:00:00 AM • Written by: Kat Smith

Milk is often served as the beverage of choice with school lunches, and has been a staple on breakfast tables for decades as mothers everywhere tout the benefits of drinking a glass every day. Unfortunately, after years of pouring the stuff over your breakfast cereal, the bone-building benefits that milk has claimed over the years might not be all that accurate. Recent research has indicated that cow’s milk could, in fact, contribute to a higher risk of bone fractures in women along with an increased risk of death in both men and women, often due to cardiovascular disease. So will drinking milk really kill you at an early age? Let’s take a look at what the research says to determine whether or not milk is as healthy as people think.

What’s the problem with milk?

Milk may be high in calcium and vitamin D, which are essential nutrients for bone health, but it is also high in fat and has more sugar than you might realize. For these reasons, milk consumption—especially in higher fat varieties—has been linked with higher rates of heart disease and diabetes. Another issue that has recently been brought to light with the latest research is milk’s contribution to oxidative stress, which is associated with aging and gene mutations that could lead to cancer. These negative effects of milk seem to cancel out any contributions milk may have with bone health.

Where can you get calcium?

With milk ruled out as an option for your calcium intake, you are probably wondering where you can get your daily dose of the bone-fortifying mineral. The good news is that the delicious products made from milk such as cheese and yogurt do not seem to have the same negative effects as milk itself, so they are still reliable choices. Just remember to keep your cheese consumption moderate and avoid those flavored yogurts with lots of added sugars. Non-dairy calcium sources should also be a regular part of your diet. These include dark leafy greens (that’s right, we’re talking kale), beans, soy products, and figs.

What other foods should be avoided?

Now that you know milk isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, you might be speculative of whether or not other so-called healthy choices really are good for you. It is often the case that foods and beverages will have big claims about their health benefits with retractions of these claims once the food craze passes. We have seen it time and again with foods like reduced fat peanut butter, Vitamin Water, light yogurt, and, of course, pre-packaged gluten-free goods. There is a surge of claimed health benefits, but they turn out to be completely untrue or overshadowed by significant quantities of sugar or harmful food additives. Red wine is another choice that has had mixed opinions on its health benefits, particularly with a key component derived from grape skin called resveratrol. This is the compound that has put red wine on the health food radar for lowering blood pressure and preventing heart attacks. The problem? Resveratrol might hinder the effects of physical activity, which is a much more vital component of preserving heart health.

Knowing exactly what to eat to stay healthy can be a roller coaster ride of mixed research and opinions, but you can always rely on the wholesome goodness of whole, natural foods rather than processed choices containing long lists of questionable ingredients.

Reach the World. Giving Made Easy with Impact.

Kat Smith