Is drinking milk good for you, or not? Is organic milk healthier than conventional? Is raw milk safe? Is it legal? Skim, 2 perent or whole…which one should I drink?
Here are some milk nutrition facts for you to make up your own mind whether or not you should drink milk.
Asking the question, “Is drinking milk good or bad for you?” is controversial. A Google search for ‘why is drinking milk good for you’ yields 18.2 million search results. Why it’s bad pulls up 12.7 million links.
Why is milk so controversial?
Vegans and other opponents of drinking milk point out that humans are the only species to drink other species’ milk (With the exception of some orphaned animals).
Taking it a step further, they argue, all other species stop drinking milk after weaning off of mother’s breast milk.
Other opponents blame milk for the following reasons, among many:
It may cause allergies
It’s relatively high in saturated fat
Factory-farmed milk may contain hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and chemicals
Assuming one cup of milk contained no contaminants or harmful ingredients, what beneficial nutrients could we get from (cow) milk?
Calcium: One 8 oz. cup of milk contains about one-third of our recommended daily value, regardless of the fat content. Calcium, of course, strengthens bones and may help prevent osteoporosis. But the Harvard School of Public Health recommends limiting dairy intake to two servings per day. Find your calcium from other sources, the school recommends.
Dietary Fat: Whole milk has 8 grams of total fat, 5 of them saturated; 2% milk contains 5g fat, 3 of them saturated; there’s 2 grams of fat in 1% milk, both grams saturated; skim milk checks in at under 1 gram of fat. The official government stance: those trying to lose weight should restrict calories and drink skim milk. But many nutritionists would argue that the fat in a moderate portion of whole milk, or at least 2%, would make people feel fuller and reduce cravings for more food. As for saturated fats, this is a very controversial subject. Harvard's School of Public Health suggests limiting saturated fat intake; others blame refined carbs for heart disease, not saturated fats.
Protein: Milk, regardless of fat content, usually has 8 grams of protein. Milk has two main proteins: whey and casein. In human milk, whey makes up about 60-80 percent of the milk protein. In cow’s milk, whey only accounts for about 20 percent. Protein is critical for growth, but is milk protein critical for good health? For some, it could be, but for the estimated 30-50 million Americans with lactose intolerance, at least one, if not both of these milk proteins can’t be broken down.
Carbohydrates: Nearly all varieties of cow milk have 12-13 grams of carbohydrates, all of which comes from the milk sugar, lactose. One reason some nutritionists would caution against skim milk, even though it has less calories and fat, is that foods with natural dietary fat can help prevent blood sugar spikes and insulin intolerance. If you drink skim milk, consider eating some foods with natural fat to buffer the blood sugar spike.
Calories: The calorie count of one cup of skim, 1%, 2% and whole (3.25%) is roughly: 90, 100, 120, 150, respectively. For the estimated one-third of American adults who are obese, should they drink skim milk? Again, assuming that the milk comes from a safe, humane source, even someone who is obese still needs to consume at least 1,500 calories to be able to function.
Vitamins and Minerals: Many types of milk are fortified with Vitamin D, supplying roughly one-quarter of the daily value. There’s also about a 25 percent suggested daily value of Vitamin B2 as well. One cup of milk also supplies about one-fifth of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin B12, a vitamin lacking in some vegan and vegetarian diets. In addition to being loaded with calcium, milk is also high in the following minerals: phosphorous, potassium and selenium.
Some research suggests that organic milk is healthier. Raw milk proponents claim that promptly-refrigerated, unpasteurized, grass-fed milk poses no health risks and can produce numerous health advantages, such as better immune function. But most states outlaw the sale of raw milk. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions whether or not you should drink milk (or suckle directly from a cow).
Have other milk nutrition facts we should take into consideration? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.