With so many myths surrounding milk, one of our nation’s most-loved drinks, it’s no surprise that some of us are feeling confused. We take a look at the current evidence and separate fact from fiction.
Dairy causes weight gain
When trying to lose weight, some people, especially women, cut out dairy foods. In 2012, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review concluding that consuming dairy foods doesn’t promote weight gain, so if you’re trying to slim down, ditching dairy isn’t the answer. All you’d be doing is missing out on dairy’s valuable nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin B. To lose weight, you need to focus on fat. Full-fat dairy products are higher in both energy and saturated fat than their reduced-fat counterparts are, so get your calcium from low-fat natural yoghurt, skim milk and reduced-fat cheese.
75 per cent of people can’t digest dairy foods
In Australia, up to 5 per cent of Caucasians and 75 per cent of non-Caucasians can’t tolerate lactose, a natural milk sugar in dairy products, and in some Asian countries, this rate is close to 100 per cent. The good news is that most people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy small amounts of dairy products without suffering from any symptoms. Yoghurt and cheese contain less lactose than milk and ice cream do, but a range of lactose-free products is also available in supermarkets.
Myth #3 Milk contains harmful hormones
Happily, the only hormones in Australian cow’s milk are natural bioactive hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Unlike US manufacturers, Australian dairy farmers are banned from using synthetic bovine growth hormones.
The bottom line
The majority of us can tolerate dairy products, and consuming reduced-fat dairy foods is the best way to meet our calcium requirements for strong teeth and bones. Your daily diet should include two to three serves; one serve is a glass of milk, two slices of cheese or a 200g tub of yoghurt. Thanks to their high protein levels, dairy foods also make a satisfying snack. For more reasons to stick with dairy, pick up the June issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine — on sale now!