Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dairy FAQ: What's in Real Milk vs. Alternative Dairy Beverages?

Usually when I start talking about milk and dairy products people will ask me what I think about soy milk or almond milk. While choice is certainly a great thing and I'm not about to take that away from anyone, I'd rather refer to these products as soy juice or almond juice. Have you seen a soybean with an udder? I haven't. 
Some folks who are lactose intolerant may not be able to enjoy as much dairy as they may like or that is recommended, but lucky for them, there are plenty of real-dairy alternatives, such as Lactaid milk (real cows' milk without the lactose) and hard cheeses generally contain less lactose and are easier to digest.

A lot of people read food labels at the grocery store and more recently, at restaurants. Have you ever checked out the nutrition profile of milk and any of the other alternative beverages? It's commonly known that pop contains a lot of sugar and not a lot of nutrition, but a lot of these beverages are lacking in key nutrients like calcium and protein. 
They also contain several ingredients, such as oils, thickening agents (starches, carrageenan, or vegetable gums), flavorings and syrup sweeteners, emulsifiers and added vitamins and minerals. And their main ingredient is water. These may also have added salt.

Milk contains one: milk. And it's been minimally processed. By that I mean it's been pasteurized to make it even safer and homogenized to redistribute the cream in the milk so it doesn't rise to the top. 
The great thing about dairy products is that there is something for everyone, regardless of their preference. Between the endless varieties of cheese and flavors of milk, not to mention all the different kinds of yogurt, getting your three servings a day is really not that hard. 

The best advice I can give you when it comes to deciding on what to feed your family is to do your research. Figure out what's in the food you are buying and ask people if you have questions. A dietitian is a great place to start. If you have questions about real dairy products, ask those involved in the industry who are aware of how things work on a dairy farm and in a processing plant. 


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