When you're pouring milk on a bowl of cereal, chomping down on a gooey grilled cheese or simply sipping milk to refuel your body after working out, you’re probably not thinking about the goodness going into your belly. We're here to brighten your day with four surprising facts about this delicious creamy beverage:
#1: Dairy is a nutrient powerhouse that doesn't break the bank
Dairy milk's unique nutrient package is considered a good or excellent source of at least 12 essential nutrients, a few of them being some of the ones most often lacking in American diets, including calcium and vitamin D.
Not only that, but newly available data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that more nutrients in real milk meet the threshold of being a "good or excellent source" than was previously thought. A food is considered a good source of nutrients if the daily value per serving is between 10 and 19%; above 20%, it's considered an excellent source.
Dairy alternatives, meanwhile, often cost twice as much as real dairy milk, yet lag on essential nutrients.
#2: Lactose-free dairy milk is still milk – just without the lactose
Are you someone who has dairy alternative products due to lactose intolerance but miss the creamy taste of real milk? Fear not! You can still get all the dairy nutrition you crave with a lactose-free real milk product.
Now this may sound like sorcery, but the science is quite simple. Lactose-free milk is made by adding a natural lactase enzyme to regular milk (which lactose-intolerant individuals lack). The added enzyme breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose – two sugars that are easier to digest for some people.
The result? Lactose-free milk that tastes sweeter than regular milk without any added sugar. There's even lactose-free ultrafiltered chocolate milk like Darigold Chocolate FIT – yum!
#3: Dairy foods are not linked to inflammation
The idea that dairy causes inflammation is a myth. In fact, a study published in Nutritional Epidemiology that ranked foods based on their inflammatory potential found that eating dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese has been linked to reduced inflammation.
Not convinced? Of an additional 19 studies that evaluated dairy products, 10 reported no effect on inflammation while eight reported a reduction in at least one biomarker of inflammation. Great news for milk drinkers concerned about inflammation’s impact on overall health.
#4: Dairy farmers are among the original environmental stewards
Dairy farmers have long had a stake in stewarding their natural resources — not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because they want their children to continue the legacy of what are often multigenerational farms. And this depends on their ability to continuously adopt new on-farm practices that build their resilience.
U.S. dairy only accounts for less than 2% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy farmers and the dairy community are committed to investing in research and technologies to further reduce dairy’s impact on the environment. In fact, innovative new practices dairy farmers implemented between 2007 and 2017 — whether in cow comfort, improved feed and genetics or on-farm management advances — reduced the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk by about 19%. Further steps to improve environmental stewardship on-farm will result in both environmental and economic gains, since many of these improvements increase returns in the long run.
Nor does stewardship stop at the farm. On a national level, the U.S. dairy sector has set goals to collectively reach carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner–from farm to consumer product.
So, sip, pour and chomp away! Dairy is so much more than meets the eye – or should we say tastebud?