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Milking the Most Nutrition From Each Glass

milksI’ve always felt a little ashamed that I am not a milk drinker, since I’m setting a bad example for my kids and ensuring we’ll all  suffer fractured hips and rotten teeth in the coming years. I’m not sure why I don’t drink milk. The taste is fine, I’m not allergic. But I still only manage to knock back three or four glasses a year — usually as an accompaniment to cake or cookies. I don’t even take milk in my coffee.

But is milk really all it’s cracked up to be? Are there other milks out there that I’d be better off drinking? Are there other milks I should be encouraging my kids to drink (or stay away from)?

The LA Times has a rundown of five kids of milk — cow, goat, almond, rice, soy and hemp — and looks at the benefits and over-promises of each.

Which milk wins over all for nutrition? You’re not going to like the answer.

None is a clear favorite.

Cows milk is high in protein and calcium, but also high in saturated fats. Goat’s milk has even more saturated fats than cows milk, though skim and low-fat versions cut out some of that bad stuff while retaining the other vitamins. But the article notes that digestibility of both can be difficult since both contain lactose.

“Most of the world’s population can’t digest milk,” says Dr. Scott Sicherer, professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and co-author of the 2009 book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dairy-Free Eating.” “Our bodies are not made to drink this stuff.”

Well, that’s interesting! (Though he appears to be invested in the idea that we NOT consume milk.)

What about soy? Lots of sugar, the article says (even “unsweetened” soy milk) but you get the same protein, calcium, Vitamin D, etc., as cow’s milk (because the stuff is fortified).

Almond milk tastes good (again, loaded with sweeteners!), but isn’t even close to being comparable to the other milks when it comes to protein, etc. (A cup of almond milks is not equivalent nutritionally to a cup of toasted almonds.)

Hemp milk is loaded with Omega fats and not as much protein as cow or soy milk. But before you switch from salmon filets to hemp milk, note that some aren’t sure whether the kinds of Omegas in hemp milk are at the recommended ratio for them to be beneficial.

So! No help! But here’s something to chew on while you guzzle whatever milk it is that you guzzle: the benefits of milk may also be overblown. The article notes several studies that show no fewer bone fractures in women who drank milk than women who didn’t.

What do you pour in your cereal?

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Photo: LA Times.com

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