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Milk – Do You Need It and How to Decide What Kind

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As with many foods, milk has undergone extreme love and extreme hate in the health community.  It has swung from a necessary part of everyday life (i.e. It does a body good, Got Milk?) to a virtual poison (i.e. The China Study).  As with most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Health Benefits of Milk

Is milk necessary?

Beyond your mother’s milk, the average adult can get all their vitamins and minerals (even calcium) from non-dairy sources.  So if you cannot tolerate milk, or if it just doesn’t’ make you feel good, you can live a perfectly healthy and happy life without milk.

So should I avoid milk?

The answer to that is also no.  The only reason you need to avoid milk is if you are lactose intolerant, if it makes you feel bloated or you break out after having milk products.  If none of those apply to you, milk is a great source of protein that you can integrate into a healthy diet.

What are the different types of milk?

Whole Milk

Whole Milk is the original form of milk.  It contains about 3-4% fat.

Partially Skimmed Milk (1% or 2%)

Partially skimmed or reduced fat milk is when a portion of the fat has been skimmed off thus reducing the overall fat content.

Skim Milk (Fat-free)

Skim milk has had all of the fat removed so that it is still high in protein but still fat free.

Organic Milk

This is milk from cows that have been fed crops that have been organically grown.  Organic milk is typically offered in Whole, Reduced Fat and Skim varieties.

Raw Milk

All milk that is not designated as raw has undergone pasteurization.  Essentially this means that it has been heated to an extraordinarily high temperature to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.  Pasteurization also kills certain active enzymes so proponents of raw milk feel that raw milk is an easier to digest and healthier way to drink milk.

Lactose-free Milk

This milk has been processed to break down lactase so that people with lactose intolerance can more easily digest the milk.

Milk Alternatives

Milk alternatives have the consistency and color of cow milk but are typically produced using plant based products.  Examples are almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, etc.  Although they can be used as a milk alternative for things like cereal or smoothies, they lack protein and a lot of the other vitamins and minerals that milk provide.  They can still be a healthy addition to your diet but I wouldn’t consider them in the same category as milk.

So what type of milk do you recommend?

I recommend either Organic Whole Milk or Organic 2% Milk.  The small amount of fat that these options contain help make the milk more satisfying – not to mention taste better!  Fat also helps your body absorb the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).

Article was written by Tara Coleman and first appeared on totalgymdirect.com.

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