From Whoopi Goldberg to Harrison Ford, the biggest Hollywood stars grew milk mustache in the last more than 20 years in “Got Milk?” campaigns. The promotion was launched in 1993 and has been encouraging the consumption of cow’s milk, suggesting that milk and dairy products are elementary components of a healthy diet. Is it? is it really?

The public and medical discussion whether milk is healthy or not have a long history. Even today, when you’re browsing on lifestyle and health magazines you meet the most diverse opinions. Some say that milk is harmful to your health, some say quite the opposite. Some say that you should consume only reduced-fat dairy, others claim milk fat is actually amongst the essential nutrients. So, what are the hard facts behind these suggestions?

Dairy products and cardiovascular diseases?

According to a 2014 research review (based on eighteen observational studies) published in Current Nutrition Reports, total dairy intake doesn’t contribute to cardiovascular disease  (CVD) incidence or death. On the contrary, the review finds that milk, cheese, and yogurt consumption is inversely associated with CVD risk. Another (2016) research review claims, similarly, that there seem to be favorable associations between total dairy intake and hypertension risks, and between low-fat dairy and yogurt consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). When it comes to stroke, milk and dairy consumption seems to be a neutral factor. But let’s have a closer look at the most popular dairy products one by one.

Cheese – The Milk Queen

Would be a generalization to claim cheese as such is healthy or unhealthy. Things are rarely black and white and this is just increasingly true to “cheese”. You cannot mention blue cheese and parmesan on the same page. Also, the way of your cheese consumption does count. If let’s say, you eat 20-ounce Roquefort every night before you go to bed… that’s probably not a wise decision. On the other hand, if you eat some feta, mozzarella, or ricotta for breakfast you have nothing to lose. Cheese, in general, can promote an anti-hypertension diet and can help you lose some weight; in addition, it can help prevent cavities, too. However, never forget, cheese in itself cannot really be seen as a unified category. If you eat cheese regularly, choose low-fat ones more often (e.g. feta, mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta) — although a moderate intake of high-fat cheese is also completely OK, and absolutely can be a part of a healthy diet.

The heavenly yogurt

If you try to imagine how ambrosia looks and tastes like, the creamy and sparklingly white yogurt is something you may have in your mind. We already have seen that it (combined with a healthy diet) can prevent high blood pressure. According to many fitness gurus, yogurt is one of your best friends when it comes to lose weight. Similarly to cheese, you have to be careful when you take a product from the supermarket shelf. Make some effort to find the one that contains possibly the least of all these: sugar (20 grams or less), saturated fat (2 grams or less), fat (3.5 grams or less), and calories (100 to 150), and possibly the most protein (at least 8 to 10 grams), calcium (at least 20 percent of the daily value), and Vitamin D (at least 20 percent of the daily value) — per a 6-ounce serving. If you take all of these into account, you don’t need to be afraid of yogurt consumption — you’re going to make your heart happy.

Milk — The biggest question mark

While it seems that, according to the research results mentioned above, there is no need to be afraid of dairy products such as cheese or yogurt, milk in itself is still a question. Many people, for example, that have lactose intolerance, can consume yogurt or cheese without being sick afterwards – unlike milk. Milk contains more lactose than cheese or yogurt. And also, if you are browsing on the internet, you will find far more contradictory information about milk than about dairy products. Altogether, it seems the biggest fears related to milk consumption are unfounded, but still – even if being the most enthusiast milk promoter -, you should pay attention to moderate consumption. Don’t drink more than 2-3 glasses a day!

Further suggestions

Finally, scientific research here or there, you should always keep a close eye on your body’s reactions. We are not all the same. So if you feel that milk and dairy products affect your body favorably, don’t be afraid to have them. However, if your body signs that milk is not the best choice (e.g. with a tension or pain in the stomach), then you’d better not forcing milk and dairy consumption.

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