I recently had a segment on Hampton Roads local 13News Now (check it out here) talking about the downfalls of a dairy free diet. I’ve seen an increase in the media and beyond giving dairy a bad rap and that it’s filled with antibiotics and added hormones. I have even seen growing toddlers being given almond or soy milk instead of cow’s milk and while this is a personal preference, many children across the world may be getting robbed of vital nutrients.
Dairy is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, may improve bone density, lower osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures, and is a complete protein (AKA: it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need!). Milk alone provides three of the top nutrients most commonly lacking in Americans’ diets: calcium, vitamin D and potassium. What more could you want? Growing up as an athlete, I had three glasses of milk a day. Everything from whole milk, skim and even chocolate milk gave me the nutrients to grow and perform well during my sports practices and games.
While dairy alternatives may be all the rage right now, they unfortunately don’t offer the same nutrition as actual dairy products, and most of us are not eating enough greens, nuts and fish to fill the gap. In fact, you would have to eat 4 oranges, 9 cups of spinach or 92 almonds to get the amount of calcium that is in one serving of milk. Not to mention, when it comes to protein, almond milk only offers 1 gram per serving whereas cows milk offers 9 grams.
Blogs, celebrities, social media and dieting books all claim that dairy-free is the way to be. While it’s tempting to keep up with the most recent food trends, it’s not always the best idea. Don’t ignore the positives! If you’re unsure about the best options for you, your lifestyle and overall goals, contact a Registered Dietitian for a tailored and well-balanced nutrition plan.