For generations, milk has been considered one of the best sources of food. It is rich in proteins, sugars, fat, vitamins and minerals. The nutrients found in milk are also beneficial for bone health, heart function, muscle, skeletal movement and the nervous system.
Though mostly consumed by children, adults also need to consume milk regularly for various reasons, including providing them with nutritional benefits such as improving bone function and being a rich source of calcium.
However, even though milk is a healthy source of food, it should not be consumed in excess, especially by adults.
More than half of the fat in whole milk is saturated. Saturated fat can increase the risk of hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol and triglycerides in blood), leading to heart disease.
Excessive intake of milk and other dairy products may also contribute to weight gain due to the sugars and fats found in them.
Drinking unpasteurised milk may be unsafe depending on the method used to collect, handle and transport it to the market. Poorly handled milk is a good breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria.
When you choose to drink milk
•Dilute milk with clean boiled water. This does not change the nutrients in it, but reduces the amount a person drinks per cup.
•Reduce the number of times you drink milk per week. Because adults are able to eat and drink a variety of foods that have different nutritional values, they do not have to depend on milk for most of their nutrition intake the way children do.
•If you drink milk regularly, limit the consumption of other animal proteins because most of them come with saturated fat.
Instead, eat more plant protein, which reduces the level of bad cholesterol in the body.
•Limit high sugar foods such as cakes, soda, chocolates, packed meat and ice cream.
•Consider taking skimmed milk instead of full cream milk.
•Compliment milk with other dairy products such as cheese or yogurt, which have less fat compared to full cream milk.
•Resist the temptation of adding sugar to your cup of milk because it increases the total energy content.
What is in milk
Full cream milk is 3.25 per cent fat. One glass contains 150 calories, approximately eight grammes each of protein and fat, and 11.5 grammes of carbohydrates. This serving also contains 276 milliggrammes of calcium and 205 milligrammes of phosphorous.
Reduced fat (semi-skimmed) and skimmed milk, have lower fat content, but still have all the other benefits.
The writer is a dietician
SOURCE: Daily Monitor