Celebrate Milk’s Nutritious Profile

June 08, 2012

June is National Dairy Month, in celebration SupermarketGuru wants to talk about the many health benefits of milk

Milk is a nutritious beverage and contains about one-third of the recommended daily value of calcium in one 8 oz cup. Calcium, of course, is important for bone health as well as muscle and nerve conduction among other things. In terms of dairy foods, milk, yogurt and cheese are great sources of calcium.

Protein, regardless of milk’s fat content, milk usually has 8 grams of protein. Milk has two main proteins: whey and casein; whey accounts for about 20 percent of the protein in cow’s milk. Protein is essential for good health and provides the building blocks for all of the cells in our body. Cottage cheese is another excellent dairy food with a lot of protein; about 15 grams per half cup.

Nearly all varieties of milk have 12-13 grams of carbohydrates, all of which comes from lactose, milk’s famous sugar. For this reason, the higher fat versions may be better for those with blood sugar issues, as the fat slows the carbohydrate absorption. Having a high fiber food like oatmeal or other whole grains can also buffer the effect.

Let’s not forget the vitamins and minerals! Milk is often fortified with Vitamin D, supplying roughly one-quarter of the daily value. Milk is a great source of iodine, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium; all necessary for optimal health. Milk is also a great source of vitamin B2 or riboflavin; there is about 25 percent of the suggested daily value of B2 in each serving.

What about fat? Whole milk has 8 grams of total fat, 5 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 less than 1 gram. Many nutritionists would argue that the fat in a moderate portion of whole or 2 percent milk, would make people feel fuller, more satisfied and reduce cravings for more food.

A Harvard study found that milk from grass fed cows contained more of the unsaturated fat, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), than do cows fed processed grains. Why is this interesting? Studies have found that CLA can protect the heart, and help in weight loss.

Milk and dairy products can be a great food for many but for those with allergies or who avoid milk for other reasons, fear not, because products with milk or milk derivatives will be labeled as such; all FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain milk are required by US law to list the word “milk” on the product label.

Some hidden sources of milk include, deli meat blades, which are frequently used for both meat and cheese products. Some brands of canned tuna fish contain casein, a milk protein as well as other non-dairy products. Check for casein listed on the ingredient label. Some meats may also contain casein as a binder, so ask! Also keep in mind that some restaurants put butter on steaks, vegetables, and other dishes after they have been grilled or cooked to add extra flavor; inform your waiter of the allergy as well as the fact that you must avoid butter. For more on milk allergies click here

Celebrate Dairy!