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Here’s how milk can keep you in the pink of health

Everything you didn’t know about milk, and didn’t know who to ask

brunch Updated: May 27, 2017 21:52 IST
Lovneet Batra
There’s a way to enjoy the benefits of milk without facing the downside
There’s a way to enjoy the benefits of milk without facing the downside

Milk has always been regarded as a vital part of a balanced diet. It often tops household grocery lists. However, the scary dairy stories may leave you second-guessing your next sip. So, is milk suddenly bad for you? Is it a source of cancer-causing hormones and antibiotics? Or is there a way to enjoy the benefits without facing the downside? If yes, which milk to pick?

Here are few things to know before making up your mind...

What you’ve heard: Milk makes you fat

What you should know: No! It helps burn fat

Whole milk has a unique ratio of macronutrients, providing 8g protein, 8g fat and 12g carbohydrate per cup, which is great to stabilise hunger-regulating hormones.

A recently published study confirmed the effect milk and dairy products have on weight loss, where subjects consuming at least two servings a day lost more belly fat and gained lean mass. Milk is high in calcium, which helps get rid of fat. But studies show that this effect was not replicated by calcium supplements because milk has other active compounds that provide an additional fat-burning effect.

What you’ve heard: You need protein supplements, not milk to build muscle

What you should know: Not true

One serving of most protein supplements provides 23g of protein, which is comparable to 20g from 500ml of whole milk. In fact, milk is easily one of the best muscle-building foods. After an intense workout, you need 18-20g of complete protein for recovery. Milk is a complete protein with 20 per cent whey and 80 per cent casein. Since it provides both compounds, it is the ideal after-workout drink, which is available to all.

What you’ve heard: Hormones make milk unhealthy

What you should know: Not unless you’re injecting the cattle

The use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) results in more milk production at a lower cost. But rBGH boosts milk’s concentration of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), that’s linked to cancer. Although drinking milk from hormone-treated cows doesn’t transfer the active form of these chemicals to our body, it is advisable to procure dairy products from a trustworthy local source. Recent studies from the United Kingdom show that organic milk from pasture-raised cattle has more beneficial fatty acids than conventional dairy. A study among 40,000 Norwegian women revealed that those who drank milk as children and continued throughout adulthood had a much lower chance of developing breast cancer.

What you’ve heard: Milk contains antibiotics

What you should know: Not by itself

They can end up in milk when used on dairy cows. Small levels of drugs are allowed in milk, but residues that go beyond certain thresholds are illegal. In a study conducted by the National

Dairy Institute in 2011, raw milk samples from Delhi and surrounding villages were collected. The overall antibiotic incidence rate was 14 per cent, 11 per cent contained beta-lactams (antibiotic) and 2 per cent contained streptomycin (antibiotic). Also, conventionally-raised dairy cattle are primarily fed grain. If the cows have access to healthier food, you are benefitted too. For maximum positive impact, minimise the steps between farm and glass. Find an honest milkman and pay him right so that he has no reason to adulterate.

What you’ve heard: Skimmed milk is better than whole

What you should know: In fact, not!

Milk is available with different fat content in different countries. In India, there’s full cream milk (6 per cent fat); toned milk (3 per cent fat), double toned (1.5 per cent fat) and slim/skim milk (<0.5 per cent fat). Whereas in the US, the categories are whole milk (3.25 per cent fat); reduced fat (2 per cent); low fat (1 per cent fat) and skim milk (<0.5 per cent fat). Whole milk is high in saturated fat, but that doesn’t mean skim milk will make you lose weight. In fact, it may do just the opposite. A Swedish study showed a lower risk of weight gain among women who drank one or more cups of whole milk a day than those who drank low-fat milk. This was due to high satiety linked to full fat milk. Scientific studies show that drinking whole milk improves cholesterol levels. And scientists at the University of Texas found that drinking whole milk after lifting weights boosted muscle protein synthesis.

What you’ve heard: Flavoured milk is healthy

What you should know: It’s fattening

On its own, milk is a high-nutrient food with natural sugars. But manufacturers load flavoured milks with sugar, syrups, artificial sweeteners and colours, emulsifiers, preservatives, caffeine and unrecognisable ingredients. Always read the contents and nutrition label carefully to ensure that you don’t consume any unwanted elements.

What you’ve heard: Milk is complete food

What you should know: Not really, but can be a saviour

It keeps your bones healthy, helps you sleep better, regulate blood pressure and build lean muscle.

You can survive without drinking it, as long as you know the substitutes for calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, B-6, B12, choline, magnesium, healthy fats, probiotic and proteins.

From HT Brunch, May 28, 2017

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