Gene Tunney, the heavyweight champion who beat Jack Dempsey for the title in the 1920s, had a simple credo: Drink two quarts of milk a day and think of nothing but boxing. His belief in the health benefits of milk reflected a national allegiance to what could have been called “the great white hope.”
In America we’ve long been told milk is a wonder drink, kind of like wine for the French. But just as overdosing on spinach won’t give us the pop of Popeye, recent research has shown that milk, on its own, doesn’t have the power to make us gain or lose weight, and cannot single handedly fortify our bones.
Still, milk is worth having in your fridge. Milk can be a great snack, and a better way to stave off hunger than chips or other unhealthy options; it may also be a good option if you are feeling energy-depleted. For those undergoing treatment it can be a great way to get added protein into your diet- a single glass of milk contains 7g of protein, as much as an egg! Milk also contains carbohydrates, and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. It also offers calcium, and phosphorus, and is usually fortified with vitamin D.
When deciding on what milk to buy we have a number of decisions to make. Do we want skim, two percent, whole, organic, lactose free, hormone free? There have been years of research and debate – still continuing — around which form of milk is best for health, but for now, it appears that what it really comes down to is your own personal preference and needs.
If you are having issues with maintaining weight, full fat is always the better option. It’s also worth remembering that whole milk only has 3.25% fat, compared to reduced which is 2%-therefore whole milk is still not very high fat! If you are trying to lose weight, reduced fat may be a useful way of cutting calories, but it will only help in the context of an overall calorie deficit.
Your next choice: organic or conventional? The jury is still out. According to the USDA, cows that have been treated with growth hormones and antibiotics do not produce milk that is different than the milk from cows not treated (the ones that get the organic stamp).
If possible, look for milk from grass fed cows whenever possible, (it should say on the label), and if that’s not available, buy organic if you can afford it. There’s a lot of talk about the health benefits of raw milk. It’s illegal in many states, but even if it is legal in yours, it’s not a good idea to drink it if your immune system has been compromised by treatment. Also, cancer and cancer treatments can cause gastrointestinal problems, and some people may experience lactose intolerance as a result. If this is the case it’s best to stay away from cow’s milk and try other options like goat milk, lactose-free milk, or unsweetened soy and almond milks.
When making Cook For Your Life’s Healthy Fruity Oatmeal pour some milk over it to give it more oomph, in both energy and taste. Milk is a key ingredient in many delicious desserts like Icelandic Rice Pudding and Carrot Halva. It is also a necessary ingredient in many quick-to- make baked goods, like our delicious Whole Wheat Yogurt Biscuits and Maple-Apple Scones.
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