Is it better to drink cow's milk or a dairy-free alternative?
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The estrogen levels of cows increase 20-fold when they are pregnant. Although one study linked estrogen levels to breast, ovarian and uterine cancers, ingesting hormones through cow's milk is no cause for concern.
Researchers found estrogen levels only affect the reproductive systems in mice when supplemented with 100 times the levels found in cow's milk.
There is a link between saturated fat and heart disease, but whole milk only contains around 3,5% fat, semi-skimmed around 1,5% and skimmed milk 0,3%.
Only very high milk intake can be harmful, but there's no research to suggest that moderate consumption is bad for you.
Those with lactose intolerance can drink small amounts of cow's milk.
A nutrition scientist carried out a study comparing the symptoms of people with lactose intolerance when they drank two cups of soya milk, raw milk or regular milk every day. He found many of them didn’t suffer severe symptoms.
Dairy-free alternatives for milk include soy, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, coconuts, macadamia nuts, rice, flax, oats or hemp. The main ingredient is processed and diluted with water.
Soya milk is the best replacement for cow's milk in terms of protein. But the quality protein is substantially lower than milk, making it less suitable for children and the elderly.
Milk alternatives are usually fortified with the nutrients that occur in cow's milk, such as calcium. Yet, it is not sure if fortified vitamins and minerals provide the same health benefits.
The bioavailability of calcium may be different when it's fortified compared to when it's found naturally.
It is important not to assume that milk alternatives are the same as cow's milk.
If you do decide to use a dairy-free alternative, you won’t necessarily be missing out on vital nutrients if you eat a balanced diet.
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