Which Milk Should I Drink?
This question is asked quite a lot on the Healthy Mummy. Not only because people are interested in fat levels, but they are also interested in regards to calcium and alternative plant based milk products.
Firstly, why is milk so great?
It is a valuable source of calcium which is an essential mineral in bone and tooth development. If you are deficient in calcium, you can present later in life with osteoporosis, especially with women.
Calcium is also thought to have protectant properties against the development of colon cancer; reduce blood pressure and there are also suggestions that high calcium diets, especially a high dairy diet, may prevent the accumulation of body fat.
Dairy-based milks such as cow are the most common way in which to consume calcium in the western world. It also has a high bio-availability of calcium which means when we consume it, our bodies are able to digest and access the calcium easily. Goats milk also has high bioavailability of calcium as well.
What about plant based sources of calcium and milks?
The trends of milk consumption are changing due to varying reasons which is resulting is more bland based varieties of milks being made available to the community. This is commonly with milks such as soy, rice, almond and coconut milks.
There are other plant based sources of calcium as well such as tofu, kale, broccoli and leafy greens, the soft bones in salmon and sardines, almonds, beans, sesame seeds and spinach.
In some of these foods, the calcium is not as bioavailable as dairy based products or that are not as easily absorbed in our bodies due to other components of the foods, such as oxalic acid in spinach.
How much calcium do we need each day?
For an adult woman aged between 19-60 years we need 2-3 serves per day. A sample serve size is:
- 250ml of milk
- 40grams (2slices) of cheese
- 200g (1 small carton) of yoghurt.
In regards to milks, plant based milks are mostly fortified with calcium and so will generally have the same calcium content per 100ml as regular dairy based milk. Just check the back of the pack and it should have about 120mg per 100ml to be a sufficient source of calcium if the milk has been fortified with calcium.
The difference when consuming plant based milk is that you do not get the additional benefits of dairy such as riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and zinc. In saying that, plant based milks do offer a different set of vitamins and fatty acids profiles.
Should I consume low fat or no-fat dairy sources or milks?
The current Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest that all milks or dairy products consumed over 2 years of age should be reduced fat.
If you are trying to lose weight, it is also advisable to reduce your energy intake where possible and therefore by consuming reduced fat or non-fat milk you will reduce you calorie intake each day.
So it is up to you which milk you should consume. We advise reduced fat options of either dairy milk, goats milk or fortified plant based milks such as rice, almond or soy. It is a personal preference in regards to taste.
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