Coconut, almond, rice and now pea milk – there’s plenty of milk on the market, including the good old faithful cow’s milk, but which is the best milk to drink?
Today is World Milk Day, a day started to focus attention on milk and the milk industry, so what better time to discuss the health benefits of the white stuff.
Cow milk benefits
Cow’s milk is packed with nine essential nutrients that the body needs to be healthy, these are, calcium, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and niacin.
Drinking milk benefits your bones, brain, and even your immune system.
Potassium is great for muscles as well as lowering your risk of high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease.
Healthy milk alternatives
Maybe you’re intolerant to cows’ milk, or perhaps you just want to try something different?
There are plenty of alternatives for you to consider. Some of these include soy milk which is a great protein source, rice milk is another dairy-free option that is packed with vitamins.
Coconut milk is another popular option that is rich in fibre and essential vitamins too. Almond milk is another alternative to try, rich in vitamin E, it's great for recovery after a workout so use it in a protein shake.
Skim milk nutrients
Skim milk is not as calorie dense as whole milk, but still has the nutrients of whole milk in it. Skim milk is still rich in the calcium and other nutrients, but without extra calories and fat that you can expect from whole milk.
Full Fat Dairy
People tend to fear whole milk because it has more fat. But nutritionist Cassandra Barms explains that the fat can help us to absorb some vitamins, like A and D, that are found or added to milk.
Why is milk good for you?
Calcium is often touted as the main reason for enjoying milk in a healthy and balanced diet, but it has a lot more health benefits than that. As well as calcium, there is protein, vitamins, minerals, fats and carbohydrates which all contribute to your all-around good health.
Each glass of milk typically contains 8g of protein, which is essential for building your muscles, renewing cells, fighting disease and maintaining healthy hair and nails.
The carbohydrates in milk are lactose, which provides a dose of energy for the body helping it to function properly.
The fat in milk is essential, simply because the body can't produce them alone. Of course, you need to moderate your intake of these fats.
The minerals and vitamins that are found in milk help to promote stronger bones, healthy skin and a strong immune system.
Alex Caspero, MA, RD, health coach and founder of Delish Knowledge, told Healthline.com that there are good and bad arguments for consuming milk. And while it is a good source of calcium and protein, it's not the only source of these things. It's important to be aware of how many calories there are in milk, but if you're a big fan then enjoy milk, but just like everything we consume, it should be in moderation.
Calcium alternatives for weight loss
DW Fitness Clubs resident trainer and nutrition expert, Carly Tierney told us that it is suggested calcium helps us to break fat down more efficiently. But milk has liquid calories that might be better spent on solid food.
If you're trying to lose weight, then don't exclude calcium from your diet, but you might want to get it from different sources, such as canned salmon, beans, kale and bok choy.