Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Milk: To Be Got Or Not?

If you believe the ads, cows’ milk is a powerhouse product, capable of unsticking a peanut butter mouth, making white-mustachioed celebrities look health-chic and building strong bones. But isn’t soymilk better for your heart? And goats’ milk easier to digest? And aren’t rice milk and nut milk skinnier? The fact is, milk drinkers have never had more options or been more confused. Here, how to sort out the healthiest choices for animals, the planet and you.

A cup of cows’ milk provides 16 percent of your daily value of protein as well as 30 percent of calcium, about 25 percent of vitamin D and riboflavin, plus healthy amounts of potassium and vitamins A and B12—but a glass of fortified soymilk (some flavors of Vitasoy, Edensoy Extra and Silk, for example) has virtually the same benefits. One alert: Several recent studies suggest that the calcium used to fortify soymilk settles to the bottom of the carton and doesn’t end up in your glass. To be safe, add plant sources of calcium to your diet and a supplement too—it’s hard to consistently get enough from food. Good options include broccoli, spinach, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard and mustard greens and some legumes (especially soybeans and lentils).

Q: Why are animal rights and environmental groups so antidairy?

A: There are three key reasons:

Animal treatment: Cows are kept lactating as long as possible by constant pregnancies, which produce either more dairy cows or—besides the few male calves kept for stud—veal or beef.

Milk quality: To increase milk production, conventional dairy cows are given synthetic growth hormones and then antibiotics to treat any resulting infections. Some of those hormones and antibiotics end up in your glass.

Environmental effects: Each dairy cow creates 120 pounds of waste and drinks 50 gallons of water a day, while 80 percent of US agricultural land either grows grain to feed animals or animals to feed humans, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

So if you drink cows’ milk, go low-fat and organic. If you choose not to drink cows’ milk, try a fortified soymilk or other milk instead, and boost that with calcium-rich foods and a calcium supplement, too, just for good measure.

I personally enjoy a lot of other milks that are avaialble. I avoid dairy.
Try Hemp, Soy or almond milk on cereal. My current fave is the Hemp.

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