As plant-based milks grow in popularity, the research on what type of milk is better still proves little.
There has been an ongoing fight in the dairy department between supporters of cow’s milk against those who prefer plant-based alternatives. So far no study has been able to prove the benefits of cow’s milk, and consumers’ insecurities have been reflected in the decreasing consumption. The moral, environmental and health aspects of milk have pushed shoppers to do their own research, and plant-based milks have therefore become popular substitutes to the popular drink.
The tension on the milk market is mainly based on dairy producers annoyance that almond, soy and rice “milks” cloud the meaning of milk for consumers. This led to the “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese To Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act“ - also called the Dairy Pride Act. It aimed to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce a legal definition for milk and cream products. This was a step to clarify the nutritional health aspects of milk that plant-based milks don't meet.
The fight has up until this point produced little to no research from both sides proving why either alternative is better. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has now found that children that drink non-cow’s milk were 0.4 centimeters shorter than the average for their age. The study also showed that children that had three cups of cow’s milk every day were 1.5 centimeters taller than children who had three cups of non-cow’s milk. This study aims to prove why cow’s milk would be important source of dietary protein and fat, which is essential in early childhood.
It is important to recognize that the study is limited in many ways and therefore can’t prove that drinking one type of milk over the other causes an increase or decrease in children’s height. Because it is an observational study no causal effect can be determined. The study also lacks taking into consideration what kind of cow’s milk they consumed or if there were other dietary restrictions that could affect the child’s overall health.
The milk war will therefore continue and hopefully more research can lead to some clarifications. But for now, no scientific study has yet proven which milk will be more beneficial for children but rather a balanced diet that takes all nutritional needs into consideration.
To know what milk to choose look at this list of the most popular cow’s and alternative milks:
1 cup of each of the following milks contains approximately: