Milk products contain essential ingredients

Regarding the recent letter writer who calls for society to grow up and wean itself from cow’s milk and dairy products, I’d like to respond from a health professional perspective, because the writer ascertains several misconceptions about milk. No one diet is right for every person, and eliminating entire food groups is a risky generalization that can misguide consumers looking for trusted health information.

All food that is from animals naturally contains cholesterol. Low-fat or fat-free milk contains little to no cholesterol, and as a registered dietitian, these versions are what I promote my patients and clients to choose.

Also, any food obtained from an animal source will contain all aspects of what naturally occurs inside that animal, including hormones. However, all milk that is processed in the United States is tested before it leaves the dairy farm for the presence of hormones and antibiotics. If they are detected, then all milk from that farm is rejected. Furthermore, many dairy producers are now listening to consumer demand and producing organic milk or milk from cows that are not treated with additional hormones or antibiotics.

Lactose intolerance affects certain ethnic populations more than others, and affects individuals differently. Several versions of lactose-free cow’s milk can be found at your local supermarket that contain the nine essential ingredients that milk provides, and which are present in no other beverage. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk or milk products a day.

When choosing which foods you should or shouldn’t include in your diet, seek the advice of a health professional such as your physician and/or a registered dietitian. We can make sense of the science of healthful eating for you, taking into account your personal preferences, practices, medical conditions and family history.

Theresa Jackson, RD, CNSD, CDN

New York State Dietetic Association