Dairy Milk Alternatives And Their Health Benefits

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Our Monday green news brings you the latest on nutrition, good causes and child education:

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Photo courtesy of Doug Wheller via Flickr

  • Dairy milk alternatives and their health benefits: Currently, there are about 52 new milk-substitute products on the market, which is good news for people with lactose-intolerance, food allergies and vegans. But according to David Katz, the director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center: “Just because something is called milk, it does not mean it’s nutritious. The devil is in the detail; it’s important to be careful about sugar or salt additives, and to check labels to ensure nutrients like calcium and vitamins have also been added.” So how some dairy milk alternatives compare to dairy? Cow milk is an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamins D and K. Experts suggest that people (and especially children) who don’t have cow’s milk in their diet, make sure to include a good source of calcium such as leafy green vegetables, tofu, baked beans or calcium supplements with vitamin D (which helps absorption). Soy milk is richer in vitamin B than cow’s milk and contains 10 percent of  recommended daily intake (RDI) of folic acid, a B-complex vitamin. But opt for the unflavored, organic soy milk in order to preserve its protein content and to avoid unnecessary sugars and additives. Rice milk is very low in nutrients unless vitamins and calcium are added, and it contains almost no protein. Therefore it’s not a very nutritious alternative to dairy. Coconut milk contains fiber and iron, but is higher in saturated fat and calories than cow’s milk, therefore it shouldn’t be used excessively. Almond milk contains about 25 percent of the RDI for vitamin D, and almost 50 percent of vitamin E, but a very little protein. It’s lower in calories than soy, and contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Hemp milk is rich in protein and minerals, contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, E, B-12 and folic acid. It’s easy for the body to digest but it’s not a good source of calcium.
  • Canola oil for Type 2 diabetes and bad cholesterol: According to a new study from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto recently published in the journal Diabetes Care, people on the canola bread diet experienced both a reduction in blood glucose levels and a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol. This new research suggests that canola oil may be a good choice for people with Type 2 diabetes. And as Dr. Jenkins, a professor of nutritional sciences and medicine at the University of Toronto, explained: “The reduction in LDL cholesterol observed in this study on 141 people could translate into a 7 per cent reduction in cardiovascular events. The benefit could also be translated into an additional 20mg dose of one of the cholesterol-reducing drugs known as statins, a doubling of a standard dose.”
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