4 Ways to Drink Less Milk, Stay Healthy and Save Money

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Got milk? Not enough do, according to – you guessed it – the Milk Processor Education Program, responsible for those infamous ads we’ve been seeing since 1993.

The group recently put out new research that makes a shocking claim: America has a lot of overweight people. (Really?)

Genuinely surprising, though, is the claim that Americans don’t get enough nutrients in their diet: 9 out of 10 of us consume too many empty calories and not enough vitamins and minerals, according to the Milk Industry’s What America’s Missing study. They identify four things that milk offers that Americans need:

  • Calcium (64 percent don’t get enough)
  • Vitamin D (69 percent)
  • Fiber (96 percent)
  • Potassium (97 percent)

Their solution, of course, is to drink more milk. But there are those who insist that not only is milk unnecessary, it’s bad for you. One example is Dr. Mark Hymen, MD and author. In this article on his website, he lists these 6 reasons you shouldn’t drink milk…

1. Milk doesn’t reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!
2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
3. Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) — a known cancer promoter.
5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.

But even if you’re convinced milk does a body good, one thing you’ll probably concede? It’s not cheap. So if either the safety or cost of milk has you concerned, here are four tips to get many of the same nutrients offered by milk for less.

  1. Dally with dairy. Most any dairy (including cheese and yogurt) is a good source of calcium, according to HelpGuide.org. Leafy greens and beans are also rich sources, and they cost less.
  2. Get serious about cereal. There aren’t many great natural sources of vitamin D, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. But many cereals are fortified with the nutrient – not to mention a healthy dose of fiber – and if you can’t stand a glass of milk on its own, maybe cereal will sweeten the deal. Another go-to for the big D: fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or shrimp.
  3. Fill up on fruit. You can get fiber in a lot of places – but not with milk. Many fruits are a good source, including apples, strawberries, peaches, figs, and any citrus, according to WebMD.
  4. OD on OJ. Although it’s better known for vitamin C, the other breakfast beverage of champions – orange juice – is a great source of potassium, according to The Daily Green. Potatoes and yogurt are good choices too.

There are a lot of great foods that offer the same nutritional value of milk, so don’t feel stuck to any particular recommendation unless it comes straight from your doctor.

And you’ve probably heard about the mythical health benefits of antioxidants, but don’t get ripped off: Check out our story, 10 Places to Find Cheap Antioxidants.

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