Dairy: The Good and The Bad
If you look at any food pyramid, you will see that it recommends that you incorporate dairy into your diet for a healthy lifestyle. However, nutritionists have long debated whether dairy is truly necessary, especially for those trying to maintain or lose weight. While it entirely depends upon your personal health goals and dietary needs, here are some pros and cons to including or excluding dairy from your daily intake of food.
- Dairy provides an excellent source of protein. Half a cup of cottage cheese has 15g of protein compared to the 13g found in two large eggs. Due to the combination of proteins found in milk (whey and casein), studies have shown that it provides higher quality protein than beef.
- Milk also contains nutrients such as calcium, potassium and Vitamin D which are necessary for strong teeth and bones.
- Fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese contain active cultures which promote intestinal and digestive health.
- Consuming dairy has been shown to prevent osteoporosis and hypertension in older individuals.
- Milk contains lactose, and approximately 65% of the population has lactose intolerance, making it the most common food allergy. This condition, in which people are unable to digest the natural sugars found in dairy products, can cause indigestion, bloating, diarrhea and/or gas when ingested.
- Milk is high in calories. One cup of 2 percent milk contains around 120 calories, and if you are drinking the recommended 3 glasses a day, this beverage can become a significant chunk of your daily caloric intake.
- Dairy products such as ice cream, heavy cream, and cheese, are high in saturated fats, causing weight gain when eaten in excess.
- Casein, one of the proteins found in milk, promotes the production of mucus in your body. This is why many choose to cut out dairy products when they are sick or congested.
- Milk contains the growth hormone IGF. Although it is a necessary growth factor for children, it has also been linked to acne and breast cancer in adults.
For people without milk allergies, it may be difficult to decide how much (or how little) dairy to consume. However, regardless of the dietary decision you make, it is important that you keep your health in mind, and stay educated about your options. After reading through these benefits, as well as not so appealing qualities of dairy, you can answer the age-old question for yourself: Got Milk?