Straight answers on common dairy questions

Myths and misconceptions can lead consumers to needlessly eliminate dairy from their diets. So, how do you tell fact from fiction? St. Louis District Dairy Council provided the following answers to commonly asked questions.

Q: Is cow’s milk more naturally nutritious than almond, coconut and oat beverages?

A: Yes. Almond, coconut, and oat beverages are actually juices that come from plants. These beverages are often fortified with a few nutrients but lack many of the vitamins and minerals found naturally in cow’s milk. While companies have tried to duplicate milk’s benefits in manufactured, new-age beverages, none are as wholesome and naturally nutritious as real milk.

“Not only is dairy milk packed with calcium, it contains additional nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin A and potassium,” said Monica Nyman, registered dietitian with St. Louis District Dairy Council. Milk is a source of high-quality protein, providing eight grams of protein per cup. Alternative beverages, such as almond, coconut, and oat, provide only a small amount of protein.

Q: Does milk contain antibiotics or large amounts of hormones?

A: No. All milk sold at the grocery store is antibiotic free. “Many consumers don’t realize that milk is strictly tested at both the farm and the processing plant. Any milk testing positive for antibiotics at any point is disposed of immediately and does not enter the food supply,” said Nyman. If a cow becomes sick and requires antibiotic treatment, that milk is separated from the other cows’ milk on the farm. It can only be sold after tests show the antibiotics have cleared the cow’s system. All milk, including organic milk, naturally contains a small amount of hormones, which are broken down during pasteurization and the normal digestive process.

Q: Can people who are sensitive to lactose still enjoy dairy foods?

A: Yes. Lactose intolerance affects individuals differently, and some people are able to work in small amounts of dairy. Certain dairy foods, like hard aged cheeses, are naturally low in lactose. Those with lactose intolerance can also choose lactose-free milk and yogurt. Lactose-free dairy foods contain all the same nutrients and great taste without the lactose. Over-the-counter lactase enzyme products taken before consuming dairy foods can also eliminate possible symptoms. For an accurate diagnosis of lactose intolerance, speak with your doctor.

Three servings of dairy, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ensure you and your family get important nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein. With the variety of choices now available in your local grocery store, it is easier than ever to get your three servings of dairy every day.

For additional information on dairy myths and facts, visit www.stldairycouncil.org, call St. Louis District Dairy Council at 309-681-4629 or email mnyman@stldairycouncil.org. For easy and tasty recipes, check us out on Facebook and Instagram at STLDairyCouncil.