Milk misperceptions stand corrected.
There’s genuine value in getting facts right when it comes to the food we consume, dairy products included. Here, then, is a quick list of corrected milk misperceptions and the facts that prove them wrong:
Misperception: Milk and dairy foods can’t be part of a heart healthy diet.
No one food or food group causes heart disease or any other disease. Rather, an unhealthy lifestyle—which might include stress, inadequate physical activity and consistently choosing foods with high saturated fats—is a primary contributor to poor heart health.
Part of the solution, of course, is to eat a balanced diet that is low in fat. Such a diet should include low-fat and non-fat dairy products, of which our region produces many. In fact, studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, colon cancer, and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Visit www.dashdietoregon.org for recipes, tips, meal planning and tracking downloads to help you get healthy with an eating plan rich in fat free and low-fat dairy foods.
Misperception: Milk causes allergies.
Only 1% to 3% of children have an allergy to cow’s milk, and the condition usually subsides at about age three. The rate of occurrence is even lower in adults. So clearly, true milk allergies are not all that common. When they occur, it’s the immune system reacting to proteins in the milk. The primary cause of food allergies is your family genetics. Learn more about cow’s milk allergy at http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/Research/DairyCouncilDigestArchives/Pages/dcd77-3Page1.aspx
Misperception: Milk causes mucus production.
The idea of milk causing mucus and aggravating colds and asthma is one of the more durable myths. But there is no conclusive science to support this belief. More than likely, people who have a sensory perception of increased mucus when consuming milk are actually detecting a temporary event: Milk emulsion clinging briefly to the thin layer of mucus that resides naturally on the throat’s mucus membrane.
Misperception: Cow’s milk is only meant for baby cows.
Dairy foods are a unique source of several nutrients we humans need. Many Oregonians miss out on critical nutrients by not consuming enough low-fat or fat free milk, cheese or yogurt. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (see www.dietaryguidelines.gov) current evidence shows intake of milk and milk products is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Meeting DGA recommendations for dairy food consumption can help address important nutrient gaps.
Misperception: Cow’s milk and soy and rice-based beverages are the same nutritionally.
Soy and rice are grains that naturally contain different nutrients than cow’s milk. They are often fortified with calcium, vitamin A and D, but they lack the complete package of nutrients milk provides. Additionally, oxalates in soy bind with calcium to make it less available for absorption. Fortification of 500 mg of calcium in a soy-based beverage equals the 300 mg naturally found in cow’s milk.
Misperception: Milk causes early puberty in girls.
Many theories exist to explain why girls in the U.S. are entering puberty earlier than they were 30 years ago. Yet it is unclear just why this is happening. Some believe early puberty is related to childhood obesity. There is no evidence showing dairy foods cause puberty. And, interestingly enough, girls today drink far less milk than did their mothers. Dairy foods are an excellent source of nutrition, especially calcium and protein, for growing girls (and boys.) Experts recommend three servings a day from milk, cheese and yogurt.
Misperception: Hormones are unnecessary for cows to make milk.
All cows have a natural protein hormone called bST (bovine somatotropin) that helps them produce milk. Some dairy farmers choose to supplement their cows’ bST to help insure a plentiful milk supply. The dairy industry supports choices in the dairy case, and offers this reminder: All milk is safe, wholesome and nutritious. And, all milk contains the same combination of nutrients that makes dairy products an important part of a healthy diet.
Misperception: Lactose intolerance means you can’t consume dairy products.
People who are lactose intolerant should know that when it comes to dairy foods, practical solutions can help them enjoy low-fat and fat free dairy foods without experiencing discomfort or embarrassment. These include drinking lactose free milk, and eating natural cheeses and yogurt that are generally low in lactose. Learn more at www.nationaldairycouncil.org.