The Benefits of Dairy and Non-Dairy Milk Products

In honor of National Dairy Month (June), I wanted to share some nutrition tidbits about dairy with you. In recent years, the dairy industry and dairy, in general, has been viewed in a negative light. As with anything, there’s never a one size fits all approach. Calcium, one of the main nutrients from dairy, is essential for all stages and phases of our life cycle. While there are plenty of ways to achieve adequate calcium intake, here are some basics to help remind you of the positives of dairy consumption (milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.)

1. There is a positive correlation between the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt and improved bone health. This is especially important for growing children, pregnant women and transition into geriatric. Optimizing growth spurts at an early age could have a positive effect on long-term bone health not to mention boost your little ones’ height.

2. Many dairy products such as yogurt or more specifically Greek yogurt contain probiotics. One of the best ways to regulate gut health is by consuming probiotics — which are found in yogurt. This could help alleviate GI related discomfort.

3. Source dairy locally: Thankfully, the farm-to-table, community supported agriculture, and the farmers’ markets are growing to help provide sustainability practices to one of our largest issues at hand - global warming. You could source your dairy products locally which would reduce carbon footprint and also help you familiarize yourself with organic farming practices.

Now, if you’re lactose intolerant, or have a dairy allergy or simply want to make the switch from cow’s milk - the retail world is evolving because we’re seeing a variety of non-dairy milk brands. Remember, nuts are an excellent source of plant protein and also offer the “good” fat. They are excellent to snack on or if you find yourself thirsty, snag a glass of one of the unsweetened varieties below.

1. Califia Farms - You probably started seeing their products on sites like Fresh Direct and stores such as Whole Foods. Be sure to read the labels as their full line of offerings is not organic. However, all Califia Farms products are 100% plant-based, non-GMO, carrageenan-free, gluten-free, vegan and made with no artificial ingredients. Available in three varieties — almond, cashew and coconut — these ultra-creamy nutmilks are made with only four ingredients — organic nuts, water, oat fiber, and a dash of sea salt.

2. MALK - Unlike traditional high-heat processing, MALK uses ultra-high pressure. This cutting-edge cold-pressed technology (popular in juice forms) naturally keeps freshness, flavor and nutrients in without chemicals or additives. They offer almond, pecan and a cashew variety. You’ll see an increase in total fat as compared to other varieties but remember, nuts offer the good kind of fat!

3. Milkadamia - Now there is macadamia nut milk on the shelves! Grab a glass of the original flavor for just 70 calories and 6g of sugar per 8oz. They’re dairy, soy, gluten free and they don’t contain GMO’s. You can sweeten your coffee with this version or even use the product in baked goods as a substitute to milk.

Nut milks offer a variety of nutrients including m

Oh and if you’re adventurous in the kitchen like myself, here are a couple of *simple* recipes I found so that you could #DIY:

1. Almond Milk courtesy of @minimalistbaker [P.S. Read to avoid common mistakes!] —> Almond milk is low-fat, low in calories, and rich in vitamin E

2. Cashew Milk courtesy of @cookieandkate —> Cashew milk is low in calories and a low-fat option

3. Coconut Milk courtesy of @agathaachindu —> Coconut milk is rich in nutrients, including vitamins C, E, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron

As a dietitian, I would say that when it comes to the consumption of dairy products, find what works for you. Because not all dairy is bad and because we could consume dairy products in a variety of ways, you have to decide. When consuming these nut milk varieties, your safest bet for optimal nutrition is to stick to the unsweetened varieties — closest to homemade. Remember, it does not have to be all or nothing! Balance and moderation is key when it comes to achieving a long-term healthy lifestyle.

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