'Get Milk': What the Health Experts Say
The experts agree: milk is the whole package for nutrients
But what about the alternative milks out there — soy, coconut, rice, almond, and more? "The most prominent reasons for consuming alternative milk is lactose intolerance or vegan diets," says Lauren Schmitt, a registered dietitian (and the owner of Healthy Eating and Training, Inc.). Fortunately, many alternative milks to cow milk are low in cholesterol, sugars, and calories, she says, but they don't hold a candle to the protein-filled cow's milk, which has 8 grams of protein per 8 ounces.
The ultimate recommendation for milk consumption from these experts: the recommended three servings of dairy per day, whether from cow's milk, yogurt, or cheese. "If you can get in two glasses of milk per day, that's awesome," says Ayoob. "You can pour it on your cereal in the morning, and make your coffee a latte in the afternoon. It's really not that difficult." And on a regular basis, all three recommended drinking 1 percent or skim milk for anyone older than 8 years old; kids less than 2 years old should drink full-fat milk. Organic milk and nonorganic milk have the same benefits, says Rosales; but Schmitt points out other scientific studies that show organic milk has more omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid, and more antioxidants. "We do know that the cow’s that provide this milk do not eat grain treated with pesticides, do not receive antibiotic treatment, do not get treated with bovine growth hormone, and do have time to graze," Schmitt says. "For those four reasons, I feel that this product is a healthy option even though it is twice the price." Still, milk may offer the most bang for your buck. Ayoob, who works with low-incomd families, has broken down the price of a gallon of milk: about 25 cents for a glass. "For that bottle of iced tea, you could have gotten a quart of milk," he says. "It's just wasted calories [for other beverages]. Milk is as inexpensive as you're going to get for your health."
The only con, Schmitt says, of milk is if you drink it in excess. "When an individual drinks more than 3 cups per day, the calories start to add up and may not be favorable for one’s weight," she says. If you aren't a fan of skim milk, Ayoob suggests adding in powdered dairy or evaporated milk to give it a fuller, thicker flavor.