Milk Myths

How well do you know dairy?

Dairy often gets a bad reputation. There is a lot of misinformation about dairy and, as a result, many people avoid dairy products and miss out on its health and nutritional benefits. Studies show that when consumed as part of a healthy diet, dairy products contribute to better bone health and improve overall diet quality.

Test your dairy intelligence. Do you know which statements are true and which are false?

False: There’s no nutritional difference between organic milk and regular milk. Both not only taste great, but they contain the same vitamins and minerals. By the way, all milk must meet the same rigorous standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

False: All milk, regardless of the fat content, contains vitamin D. Milk ranks first as a food source of calcium, potassium and vitamin D (all critical for bone development). Milk and milk products are also great sources of protein.

True: Per 8-ounce glass, milk provides twice as many nutrients and vitamins as juice. Don’t even begin to compare milk to soft drinks, which are full of added sugar.

False: Research shows children who drink flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs, do not consume more added sugar, fat or calories, and are not heavier in weight than non-milk drinkers. Milk, whether it’s flavored or plain white, contains nine essential vitamins and minerals including protein and calcium.

False: While some milk-alternative beverages are a good source of plant protein, they are fortified and do not offer the same package of healthy nutrients — calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin — found in milk and milk products. One 8-ounce glass of almond beverage only provides 1 gram of protein, while real dairy milk provides 8 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving.

True: Raw milk and foods made from it do not provide any more health benefits than pasteurized milk, and raw milk can pose serious health risks, such as exposure to E. coli, listeria and salmonella, according to the Federal Drug Administration and other health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

False: Lactose intolerance doesn’t mean dairy intolerance. Hard cheeses and cultured dairy products like yogurt have little or no lactose. Lactose-free dairy milk is also a good choice.

False: Dairy farmers care about their farms and the land. Environmental practices on all dairy farms are tightly regulated by both federal and state agencies, and farmers consistently meet or exceed those regulations.

False: Rigorous testing ensures antibiotics do not enter the milk supply. Cows are sometimes given antibiotics under conditions approved by a veterinarian. Once a cow is given antibiotics, it is separated from the herd and continues to be milked, but the milk is discarded. That milk never reaches the consumer and is not included in any milk products.

False: Studies show that minimal amounts of naturally occurring hormones are found in animal and plant foods, including milk. These natural hormones are completely broken down during digestion. Some dairy farmers choose to use a naturally occurring bovine hormone, bovine somatotropin or rBST, to help cows produce more milk. The safety of rBST has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Drug Administration and other leading health organizations.