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Ask a Dietitian with guest Toby Amidor
I’ve heard a lot about almond milk recently. How is it different from cow’s milk?
We can start by taking a look at the label. Milk contains just three ingredients — milk and vitamins A and D. The label makes it clear that milk is a wholesome nutritious product. In addition to vitamins A and D, milk provides seven other essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium.
Another important comparison between almond beverages and cow’s milk is that cow’s milk provides 8 times more naturally occurring, high-quality protein in every 8-ounce glass. The protein in almond beverages comes from almonds. Whole almonds have great health benefits and are high in nutrients such as heart healthy fats and Vitamin E, but how many almonds are actually in a glass of almond milk? Many brands of almond milk have only 1 gram of protein which is the equivalent of three to four whole almonds in each 8-oz glass.
Milk is naturally nutrient-rich like no other beverage. There’s just no substitute for milk!
What are probiotics and are they good for me?
Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms and when consumed in adequate amounts, provide health benefits to the host.” We often think of dairy products, especially yogurt as a great source of probiotics. Other dairy products such as kefir and aged cheeses also contain probiotics. They will be listed on the package as “live or active cultures”. Probiotics are often called “good” bacteria not just due to the health benefits but also because they help to balance out the “bad” bacteria in our digestive tracts. Probiotics have gotten a lot of attention recently due to emerging research suggesting benefits from improved gut function to immune protection and infection prevention. We already knew that yogurt is packed full of nutrients but this is just one more reason to spoon some yogurt into your day. Be sure to submit your nutrition question on idahodairy.org.
I’ve heard that dairy products can help me lose weight, is that true?
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to losing weight. However, dairy products will give you a variety of vitamins, minerals and high quality protein. This balance of nutrients is key to losing weight. Most diets set us up to fail by restricting calories and excluding food groups which in turn eliminate nutrients. The high quality protein in dairy products have been proven to increase satiety, or a feeling of fullness. This may help you consume less calories in a day. Instead of focusing on a quick fix, focus on small behavior changes that can make a big difference when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. A calorie decrease as little as 50 calories per day can add up in the long run.
According to health experts, pasteurized milk offers the same health benefits as raw milk, without the risks. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that no one consume unpasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a simple, effective method to kill potentially harmful bacteria. It does not affect the nutritional value of milk in any meaningful way.