Which Milk is Best? Round Two

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Hi there, are you ready for round two of which milk is best? Hopefully today I can post pictures that are right side up. But who knows? Every day is a mystery at Nutty Nutrition. Yesterday we talked about cow milk and almond milk. Today its on to soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, rice milk, and last but not least, breast milk!

Soy Milk. Of all the plant-based milks, soy is closest to cow’s milk in terms of nutrition. Soy milk is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins A and D (added), and provides some fat (but not as much as whole milk). A few years ago there was some concern over the relationship between soy intake and breast cancer due to the isoflavones found in soy (which are weak estrogen-like compounds found in plants). However, the research shows that soy does not raise your risk for breast cancer and it may even decrease your risk (although studies are mostly population based and have mixed results).coconut milk

Coconut Milk. Coconut milk is growing in popularity. From a nutritional stand point I don’t know why (if you like the way it tastes that’s one thing). It is high in saturated fat and it has no protein in it. Some people claim that the specific type of saturated fat found in coconut milk is better for you and doesn’t raise your risk for heart disease, but those claims are mostly unproven at this point.

Cashew Milk. Cashew milk is basically identical to almond milk, except with cashews. Choosing one over the other would just be a matter of taste preference.

Hemp and Flax Milk. Alright, if you really want to be granola go for the hemp milk. My grocery store doesn’t even carry it, but similar to flax milk, it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which most people could use more of.

Rice Milk. I would only recommend rice milk if you have ALL the allergies. It is soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc. It is also flavor-free. But if you have a lot of food allergies or intolerances it might be a good choice for you.

Breast Milk. Breast milk is the best choice for babies, NOT adults. Believe it or not, a grown man (or woman) has different nutritional needs that an infant. There is no need to buy breast milk online, which is actually a lot more popular than you may think. Also, gross.

So, which one is best? It depends. Nearly every type of milk offers some type of nutritional advantage. If you have a milk allergy, intolerance, or just don’t believe in drinking cow’s milk for ethical reasons, plant-based milks are a great substitute! Just keep in mind that soy milk is the only plant-based milk that is going to give you any significant amount of protein.

Personally, I prefer one or two percent organic cow milk, but I’m definitely not opposed to soy or almond milk either. All of the milk alternatives that I investigated were fortified with key nutrients like vitamins A and D, but it likely varies by brand. I would recommend that you take a look at the nutrition facts and make sure that your milk has at least 30% of the DV of calcium and contains vitamin A (palmitate) and vitamin D. For adults with a balanced diet, it’s not really critical which type of milk you drink. You don’t even have to drink milk at all, as your calcium needs can be met though food (if you are eating a varied and balanced diet). However, for small children, I would be careful about giving a milk alternative if they are drinking a lot of milk and not eating much food.

What kind of milk do your prefer?

References:

Soy. http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/nutrition/reduce_risk/foods/soy

Ask the Doctor: Coconut Oil http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/coconut-oil

 

Six Simple Swaps to Improve Your Heart Health

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is something that is close to my heart as both of my Grandpa’s passed away from heart attacks.  Did you know that 4 of 5 heart attacks in men are preventable?  According to research done by Finnish scientists the majority of heart attacks in men can be avoided by following these five healthy behaviors: moderate physical activity, healthy diet, don’t smoke, drink moderately (2 drinks or less per day), and maintain a normal body weight.  This particular study was performed only on men, but other studies have found similar results for women. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.

I think most of us agree that those are all healthy behaviors which we should work towards in order to feel good and prevent a whole range of chronic diseases. But what exactly is meant by a “healthy diet?” I can list a slew of things that comprise a healthy diet: high fiber, low saturated fat, high intake of phytochemicals, minimal added sugar, etc etc. But those recommendations might be meaningless unless you have a nutrition textbook with you. So I have prepared a list of simple food swaps which are heart healthy and uncomplicated.P1030771

Swap salted peanuts for unsalted walnuts. Walnuts are the only nut that have heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts have been shown to help reduce cholesterol when you eat at least one ounce per day. One ounce is equivalent to one handful or about 12-15 nuts. An added bonus is that walnuts are rarely salted and will not contribute to added sodium in your diet. If walnuts seem a bit plain to you toast them for 5-10 minutes to bring out a richer flavor. You can eat walnuts plain, on oatmeal, in salads, and in the best homemade granola ever.

Swap steak for salmon. Like walnuts, salmon is filled with heart healthy omega-3’s.  Salmon has a slight advantage over most vegetarian sources of omega-3’s because it contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) which is the kind of fatty acid used by our bodies. Walnuts contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which has to be converted to EPA and DHA. In the conversion process some of the health benefits are lost. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like tuna or salmon at least twice per week. If you are vegetarian you might want to consider taking an omega-3 supplement which contains EPA and DHA.

Swap raisins for blueberries. Blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse and they are an excellent source of fiber. They are quick and easy to eat, the same way that raisins are, but they are much lower in sugar and calories. A 1 cup serving of blueberries has 80 calories, 15 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of fiber. Where a 1/2 cup serving of raisins has 200 calories, 40 grams of sugar and 2.5 grams of fiber. Need a good blueberry recipe? Try these amazing muffins.

Swap cow milk for soy milk. Even if you are drinking non-fat milk you are still getting some cholesterol and saturated fat from your milk. If you are drinking 2% or whole milk then you are getting quite a bit. Soy is cholesterol free and has isoflavones which have been shown to help reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol.  I like soy milk as a better substitute than almond milk because the nutrient profile of soy milk is very similar to cow milk, both have 8 grams of protein and the same amount of calcium. Almond milk only has 1 gram of protein.

Swap sugary cereal for oatmeal. Oatmeal is the original cholesterol-lowering food. In particular the soluble fiber found in oatmeal helps block the absorption of cholesterol. When it comes to oatmeal buy the oats in the cylinder jar (quick-cooking or old-fashioned is fine). Don’t buy those little packets, not only are they filled with sugar but they are more processed and have some of the fiber and protein removed. If you need your oatmeal to be a little sweet add fresh fruit and a pinch of cinnamon sugar.

Swap T.V. time for treadmill time. This one is pretty obvious, but I can’t write a heart healthy article without mentioning exercise. You don’t even have to really swap, you can do both at the same time. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week, for your heart and your sanity.

 

Soy and Breast Cancer: Is There a Link?

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October is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a great time to donate to a cancer charity and it is also a great time to think about lifestyle choices which may affect your risk of developing cancer. A healthy diet and regular exercise are two lifestyle factors which play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer in epidemiological studies (studies looking at large populations). On the other hand, we often hear that there are some foods which may increase our risk for cancer. One of those foods being soy. Many people have heard talk of soy being unhealthy, while some people think it’s healthy, what’s the deal? To find out, head on over to shopwell, to read the complete article.