Is dairy really bad for you?

Just imagine where the world would be without ice cream, yogurt and world-class cheeses. These are part of what are considered dairy products that are enjoyed by millions each and every day, but are they good for us?

Obliviously, not all dairy is considered equal since not all mammals are raised equally and not all milk processed the same. These are only some of the factors into the discrepancy, depending on who you ask, if dairy is actually good or bad for us.

One of the main arguments is that adult humans simply are not meant to consume milk into adulthood since milk is meant for growing infants. Humans are said to be the only species that consumes the milk of another animal.

Did you know that 75 percent of people outgrow the ability to digest dairy products (lactose intolerant) into adulthood? This is another reason many scientists believe it is unnatural for humans to consume dairy. Lactose intolerance is common in places such as South America, Asia and Africa, but less so in Australia, Europe and North America.

Anything made from the milk of mammals is considered a dairy product, so cheeses, creams, yogurt and butter are all considered to be dairy products. Just for the record, eggs are not a dairy product, they are part of the meat category.

What does dairy do to your body? Dairy products are very nutritious. For those who can digest the lactose (the main carb in dairy products), they benefit from calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamins B12, B1, B6, potassium, phosphorus and minerals such as selenium, magnesium and zinc, among others.

The nutritional value of a dairy product depends a great deal on the animal’s diet. For example, cows raised on pasture and fed grass have more omega-3 fatty acids, while grass-fed cows have higher amounts of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K2, needed for bone and heart health.

Dairy products go a long way to providing the calcium and protein to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Older adults, for example, need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Women older than 50 and men older than 70 need 1,200 mg, something several daily servings of dairy products can easily provide.

So what’s the problem with dairy then? The American Heart Association still recommends sticking to a low-fat or fat-free dairy diet, but new research shows that dairy may not be so bad after all. A 2018 study published in British Journal of Nutrition found no association between cardiovascular disease and the consumption of dairy with the exception of heavy milk drinkers.

Their study results revealed that heavy milk drinkers, a liter per day, were linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.