What dairy does for you.

Shape (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

When it comes to milk, many of us have been opt­ing for trendy alts like nuts over cow. But elim­i­nat­ing clas­sic dairy en­tirely means you may miss im­por­tant health ben­e­fits. Learn what the new­est science shows.

You prob­a­bly grew up guz­zling milk. It’s a solid source of protein, and it helps you build strong bones. Flash for­ward a few decades, though, and it’s no longer front and cen­ter in your fridge—if it’s in there at all. More and more of us have gone ve­gan or Pa­leo and ditched dairy. Even if your diet doesn’t pro­hibit milk, con­cerns about its link to acne, al­ler­gies, and heart dis­ease may have made you nix it.

Other foods have stepped up to fill the gap. The USDA, which sug­gests three serv­ings of dairy a day, now in­cludes sub­sti­tutes like soy milk as sources of cal­cium.

Not coin­ci­den­tally, the plant-based-milk mar­ket has ex­ploded. Al­mond milk sales have in­creased by a whop­ping 250 per­cent over the last five years, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen, and new va­ri­eties of nut milks are reg­u­larly hit­ting shelves. The re­sult: Tra­di­tional milk sales are plum­met­ing.

And yet, some re­cent stud­ies on the health perks of dairy made us won­der: Is it re­ally nec­es­sary to give it up com­pletely? Shape set out to in­ves­ti­gate.

What dairy does for you

Turns out, milk still de­serves its once stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion. “Dairy is an in­cred­i­bly easy way to get a very high dose of es­sen­tial vi­ta­mins and min­er­als,” says Tay­lor Wal­lace, Ph.D., a pro­fes­sor in the de­part­ment of nu­tri­tion and food stud­ies at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity. “There aren’t a lot of whole foods like it.” First of all, dairy is a com­plete protein, with all the es­sen­tial amino acids your body re­quires to func­tion. Even though you can get cal­cium from vegeta­bles, you have to eat a lot of them to hit your rec­om­mended daily al­lowance. Plus, dairy is for­ti­fied with vi­ta­min D, which is cru­cial to help­ing your body ab­sorb cal­cium.

Not only that, dairy is an ex­cel­lent choice for ac­tive women. Low-fat cho­co­late milk has been shown to help with mus­cle re­cov­ery af­ter en­durance ex­er­cise— its protein-to-carb ra­tio is com­pa­ra­ble to that of many sports drinks. Milk might help you tone up

too. Peo­ple who drank two cups of skim milk af­ter lift­ing weights lost more fat and gained more mus­cle than those who drank soy, ac­cord­ing to a McMaster Univer­sity study.

Even whole milk, once thought to be linked to heart prob­lems, may not be so bad for you af­ter all. While it does con­tain un­healthy sat­u­rated fat, un­like other foods that have this type of fat—such as red meat—dairy doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily put you at a higher risk for heart dis­ease. It might ac­tu­ally help your heart, a re­cent

Ad­vances in Nu­tri­tion re­view found. “Cer­tain nu­tri­ents in dairy may coun­ter­act the ef­fects of the fat,” ex­plains Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier, R.D.N., au­thor of the re­view and a Ph.D. can­di­date at the In­sti­tute of Nu­tri­tion and Func­tional Foods at Laval Univer­sity in Canada.

And now the down­side

One of dairy’s big­gest neg­a­tives? The stom­ach prob­lems it causes. Ninety-eight per­cent of South­east Asians, 90 per­cent of Asian Amer­i­cans, 79 per­cent of African Amer­i­cans, and 5 per­cent of Euro­peans have trou­ble di­gest­ing it be­cause they’re in­tol­er­ant of lac­tose, the type of nat­u­ral sugar that milk and other dairy prod­ucts con­tain, ac­cord­ing to the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis. As a re­sult, they end up with gas, cramps, bloat­ing, nau­sea, or di­ar­rhea when they con­sume it.

Acne is an­other ma­jor con­cern for many women, who say they break out when they eat dairy. While there hasn’t been a de­fin­i­tive study prov­ing that dairy causes pim­ples, a grow­ing vol­ume of re­search sug­gests there’s a link, ac­cord­ing to a re­view in Prac­ti­cal Der­ma­tol­ogy. The cul­prit may be hor­mones, milk pro­teins, and/or growth fac­tors in dairy that can cause the skin to pro­duce more oil, lead­ing to break­outs.

The bot­tom line

If you choose to fol­low a dairy-free diet, you can get the ben­e­fits of milk else­where. “Most nondairy op­tions are for­ti­fied with com­pa­ra­ble amounts of cal­cium and Vi­ta­min D, and they’re easy for your body to ab­sorb,” says Wal­lace.

For all the es­sen­tial amino acids your body needs, drink soy milk, which is a com­plete protein. (Al­though cow’s milk has more of one par­tic­u­lar amino acid called leucine, soy is still your best nondairy bet when it comes to protein.) Pre­fer al­mond or co­conut milk? En­joy it with some whole wheat toast. “Whole grains pro­vide the other amino acids you re­quire,” says Wal­lace.

“B , which keeps your red blood 12 cells healthy and pre­vents ane­mia, is al­most solely found in meat and dairy, so most veg­e­tar­i­ans need a sup­ple­ment [2.4 mcg a day],” says Wal­lace. “Dairy is also high in choline, which helps your body com­mu­ni­cate with your brain and may pre­vent neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders.” You’ve got a good start if you eat eggs (one egg has about 150 mg), but be sure to take a sup­ple­ment if you’re ve­gan (the RDA is 425 mg for women)

If you want to add dairy back into your diet, Wal­lace sug­gests three 8-ounce serv­ings of low-fat milk a day. Or mix and match foods to get your fill: Snack on a cheese stick and eat equal serv­ings of Greek yo­gurt or cot­tage cheese.

Drink­ing low-fat cho­co­late milk helps your mus­cles re­cover af­ter en­durance ex­er­cise.

PUT DAIRY ON DE­FROST It’s one of the few foods with all the protein and es­sen­tial amino acids your body needs to func­tion.

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