Everyone knows that cow's milk is a good source of calcium and Vitamin D. We've been taught since elementary school to consume 3 servings per day to build strong teeth and bones. So what's up with all of the alternatives that are beginning to line the grocery store shelves and dairy aisle? Today's "In Your Cart" explores your options.
This is the most economical choice at $0.17 per serving. Americans have a nutrient gap in 11 key areas: potassium, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, B-6, B-12, folate, magnesium, iron, zinc and fiber. Cow's milk helps close the gap on 9 of these areas, naturally.
Unpasteurized Cow's Milk
This is the highest calorie, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol option. Make sure you know your farmers and that they use safe food handling practices. Raw milk does not contain a significant source of Vitamin D, which has been added to the organic, flax, almond and soy options. Vitamin D helps calcium get absorbed and used by the body. The Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Health and many health care practitioners strongly recommend against consuming raw milk, especially for the very young, old or those with compromised immune systems. Raw milk is more apt to contain bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria.
This is our highest cost choice at $1.04 per serving. It mirrors the nutritional profile of pasteurized milk and like cow's milk has no added sugar. Organic milk comes from cows that are not given antibiotics and are fed a natural, pesticide free diet.
This is our lowest calorie and lowest sodium option. Many people are surprised by its smooth taste and liken it to watered-down milk. It contains the same amount of antioxidants and bone strengthening vitamins and minerals as cow's milk. The key difference is that it is a rich source of heart healthy omega 3 derived from ground up flax seed. Flax seed is also being studied for its potential protection against several forms of cancer including breast, prostate and colon cancer. Flax milk contains no protein. Shake well before pouring.
Almond milk, like organic milk tops the chart in terms of cost. The benefits of almond milk are that it is a rich source of antioxidants Vitamin A and E, contains the bone strengthening vitamins and minerals of cow's milk and meet 50% of your daily value for B-12. It is important to note that almond milk, like flax milk is low in protein, containing just one gram per serving. Protein helps keep you fuller longer and helps stabilize blood sugar.
The most important benefit of soy milk is its ability to improve your lipid profile. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Health Claim that "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce your risk of heart disease". Soy milk also has the highest calcium content at 45% DV. It is important to note that cane sugar is the second added ingredient in flax, almond and soy milk.
Sheryl Lozicki is a Registered Dietitian at Saint Mary's Health Care, a member of the new Mercy Health and the Director of Nutrition and Wellness.