People are more and more eager to consume natural, non-animal products. As a consequence, new consumer trends have begun to emerge. Is having raw milk a dangerous fad? What plant-based drink should I choose? Are lactose-free products less fattening? Nutritionist Laura González has answered all these questions.
Despite the latest trends against dairy products, dairy consumption in Spain remains high.
According to ‘ENALIA 2016’, the latest study on consumption, Spaniards consume roughly 320 grams of dairy products per person per day, and according to the 2017 National Health Survey, 88% of adults have dairy products on a daily basis.
“The average intake of Spaniards approaches and even exceeds the current recommended amounts of calcium intake. However, 82% of women aged 45-65 have an intake that is lower than recommended,” Laura Gonzalez, head of Health and Nutrition at Nestlé said.
Destroying myths about milk
“Lactose-free products are less fattening and make you feel better”
Lactose is the sugar in milk and is chemically composed of glucose and galactose. This sugar exists in cow, goat and sheep milk, even in human milk.
Lactose-free milk is an alternative for people who cannot digest milk correctly, for example, in the case of lactose intolerance or allergy.
For the nutritionist, thinking that lactose-free products are less fattening is a mistake.
“What determines a product having more or less calories is its content in other nutrients such as the amount of fat, or if it has sugars or other added sweeteners,” she explained.
Dairy products are very complete foods, but they lack some important nutrients such as iron, dietary fiber, some complex vitamins and carbohydrates, among others.
Therefore, according to González, dairy products alone are not a meal or dinner. Instead, she recommends including other food groups in dinner such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, pasta or rice, thus ensuring a balanced diet.
“Dairy-based desserts and yogurts are the same thing”
Sometimes dairy-based desserts are grouped into the dairy product group, but their nutritional profile is very different from that of a yogurt, cheese or milk.
Dairy-based desserts (custards, crèmes, rice pudding, milkshakes or creams), unlike yogurts, don’t undergo fermentation and have higher values of sugars and fats.
In addition, they don’t count for recommended amounts of dairy intake and due to their high content in additives and fat, their consumption is recommended occasionally.
Latest trends: the fad of raw milk
The latest regulation on the commercialization of raw milk has generated a lot of controversy, especially with regard to food safety.
Milk found in the supermarket is heat treated, which eliminates the microorganisms that can cause health problems.
“Raw milk, since it isn’t heat processed, poses a food safety risk for the entire population, especially for pregnant women and infants, the elderly and children, due to the potential presence of pathogenic microorganisms such as listeria, which can cause serious infections such as listeriosis,” Laura González alerted.
González advises a few measures in case we want to buy and consume raw milk:
Milk must be sold within the first 24 hours after milking.
It has an expiry period of 72 hours.
It must be kept refrigerated, ensuring a temperature lower than 4ºC
Plant-based drinks, a safe alternative
Due to a greater health concern among consumers and the rise of veganism, new plant-based alternatives have appeared as milk substitutes.
Plant-based drinks are healthy and safe alternatives and there’s an increasingly broad variety to choose from. In addition, their lack of lactose and casein makes them useful for the treatment of food intolerance and allergies.
Although it’s very common to hear “soy milk”, for example, the truth is that the term “milk” is legally allowed only for milk that comes from mammalian females. Therefore, the most appropriate term would be plant-based drink.
What to look for when we choose a plant-based drink?
Although they contain a similar amount of energy as milk, the quality of the nutrients provided by plant-based drinks isn’t always the same as that of dairy products.
For example, according to Laura González, the quality of cow milk proteins is higher than proteins provided by plant-based drinks.
Therefore, before buying these drinks, we must look at their composition, their nutritional table and the list of ingredients.
Proteins: Dairy proteins are more complete because they provide a high amount of essential amino acids. A good alternative is soy drinks enriched with calcium and vitamins, without added sugars.
Calcium and vitamin D: It’s higher in milk. Therefore, we should ensure that our plant-based drinks are enriched with these nutrients.
Added sugars and other ingredients: We must always look at the percentage of the main ingredient. For example, if you’re buying an almond-based drink, make sure it has a high percentage of almond and not other ingredients or added sugars.
Date: July 29th, 2019
By: Claudia Böesser | EFE
Nutrigenomics Institute is not responsible for the comments and opinions included in this article