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Dairy Ingredients for Health

October 1999 – Cover Story

By: Kimberlee J. Burrington Contributing Editor

We all grew up with it, but never thought much about why we consume milk. It’s what you added to cereal in the morning, dipped your cookies in for a snack, and drank with every meal.

But there are lots of advantages to drinking milk and eating milk-based ingredients. “Milk has been uniquely designed by nature to deliver a nearly full complement of nutrients to a consumer,” says Joseph O’Donnell, Ph.D., director of the California Dairy Research Foundation, Davis. As nutritionists encourage us to get our nutrition from foods rather than supplements, this is an important message to remember.

Consumers now have even more reason to look for milk and milk products in the foods they eat. Researchers have discovered that milk components boast a long list of exciting physiological functions. This research has led the dairy industry to develop many specialized, milk-derived ingredients. As we all become more conscious of what we ingest, we find that milk was, and still is, a good choice to include in the diet.

Milk has always been an important source of nutrition for young mammals, including those of the human species. Milk is a very complex food system. Its physiological bioactivity is essential for neonatal growth and development, providing protection against disease and infection. Cow’s milk is composed of 3.6% protein, 4.1% fat, 5.0% sugar, 0.7% ash, and 86.6% water. To be more specific, milk consists of approximately nine major protein types and eight different types of lipids and lactose, plus nine vitamins and five minerals. These components perform specific functions in the body, both individually and in combination, resulting in real health benefits throughout life.

Calcium and health

Dairy foods supply 75% of the calcium in the U.S. diet. While American adults consume an average of 500 to 700 mg of calcium per day, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 1,000 mg per day for ages 19 to 50, and 1,200 mg per day for those older than 50. This DRI translates into three to four servings of milk and milk products per day. Few other foods offer as concentrated a source of calcium, and one that is as readily absorbed, as do milk and milk products.

Recent research indicates that calcium may also affect numerous medical conditions. Several studies, including one in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have suggested that calcium intakes of 1,500 to 2,000 mg per day protect against colon cancer, especially for individuals at high risk for developing the disease. A recent article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that a diet high in calcium reduces urinary excretion of oxalate, which is believed to lower the risk of kidney stones. In this study, intake of dietary calcium from dairy products was inversely associated with risk for kidney stones, and intake of supplemental calcium was positively associated with kidney-stone risk.

Diets low in calcium are low in many other essential nutrients,” says Gregory Miller. Ph.D., vice president of nutrition research, National Dairy Council, Rosemont, IL. Everyone knows that milk is a great source of calcium, but it also contains seven other essential nutrients, each at concentrations greater than 10% of the Daily Value. These nutrients are protein, vitamin D, potassium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin and phosphorus. They help the body maintain normal blood formation, eyesight, strong bones and muscle function, and also aid in the maintenance of the immune system, kidneys and heart.

Obtaining calcium through foods, as opposed to a single supplement, has the added benefit of increasing the intake of all these other nutrients. If an individual gets 75% of their requirement of calcium from dairy products, they also get almost 90% of their daily requirement of phosphorous, one-third of the requirement for magnesium, and one-fifth of the requirement for zinc. All of this, while consuming only one-sixth to one-tenth of the body’s energy needs. “It is important to meet your dietary needs through foods because there may be modifying factors in foods that also make nutrients more available to the body, in comparison to taking supplements,” says Miller.


Calcium’s role in helping build strong bones and teeth during the growth years has been evident for quite some time. Now, new research indicates that calcium may play a greater part in the health of all age groups. The body stores 99% of its calcium in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in the blood and soft tissues. This 1% aids in normal muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve functions. The two ways of maintaining the necessary amount of circulating calcium are through the diet and from the bones – if the diet does not contain enough calcium, the body automatically takes calcium from the bones.

Another study, done at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, showed that women who consumed 1,000 mg of calcium daily lost 7 lbs. over the course of two years, while those who ingested less calcium gained weight. Calcium also plays a role in protecting against osteoporosis, essential hypertension, gestational hypertension, hypercholestemia and breast cancer. Also, the 1997 Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study determined that a diet combining lowfat dairy products and fruits and vegetables can significantly lower blood pressure.

The FDA defines a food as a ‘good source’ of a nutrient if it has 10% to 19% of the Daily Value for that nutrient per reference amount of the product,” says Emerita Alcantara, vice president, nutrition and regulatory services, Dairy Council of Wisconsin, Westmont, IL. “A food is an ‘excellent source’ or ‘high in’ if it has at least 20% of the Daily Value,” she adds. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and folate are also important nutrients in milk. “Milk is the number two food source of vitamin B12, the number three source of zinc, the number one source of magnesium, and the number five source of folate among U.S. adults,” says Miller.

So, if you’re not a milk drinker, how else can you get the nutrition in milk?

Dairy-based nutrition

Many milk-derived foods and ingredients deliver the nutrition of milk. Some of the most common are yogurt and cheese. Yogurt contains all the nutrients of milk, but with very little of the lactose, because the fermentation process converts lactose to lactic acid. “A typical lowfat yogurt with fruit is considered an excellent source of calcium and riboflavin, and a good source of protein, potassium, zinc and vitamin B12,” says Alcantara.

When fortifying a food product with a specific component from milk for a health benefit, there are many ingredients to choose from – naturally derived milk calcium, for example. “Milk calcium is an ingredient that has a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio similar to that found in milk and bone,” says Stacey Goebel, technical sales manager, Avonmore Waterford Ingredients, Inc., Monroe, WI. The ratio is typically 0.52:0.55 calcium to phosphorus. “In most applications, milk calcium can be easily added up to 40% of the Recommended Daily Intake for calcium,” she says.

Research has shown that milk calcium deposits effectively in the bone. Animal studies, as well as human studies, indicate that milk calcium exhibits improved bioavailability over other sources of calcium, such as calcium carbonate. Bioavailability refers to how much of a nutrient in a food can actually be extracted by the body in a useable form. Proteins and vitamins are metabolized, and thus consumed, as the body utilizes them, while minerals remain unchanged as they perform their biological functions. Whether or not minerals are actually used depends upon if they are in a useable form and if they are needed to build tissue mass such as bone. “Milk calcium also typically contains low levels of lactose, which stimulates the transport of calcium for intestinal absorption,” says Goebel. In one study, it was suggested that the protein in a milk-calcium product, typically whey protein, allowed more protein-mineral complexation, which improved the bioavailability of the calcium and phosphorus. “Functionally, the whey protein in milk calcium aids in the solubility of the product,” says Goebel.


Cheese contains roughly half the original solids, essentially all of the casein, very little or no lactose, most of the milkfat, and many of the vitamins and minerals of the original milk. “In general, hard cheeses are an excellent source of calcium and a good source of protein,” says Alcantara. Many processed foods contain cheese and other common milk-derived ingredients such as nonfat dry milk and whey ingredients. These ingredients deliver many of the nutritional components of milk, but at lower concentrations in the finished food.

If a food scientist is interested in making a calcium and osteoporosis health claim, there are several qualification requirements. “Two of the most important are that it contains a high level of calcium – at least 20% of the Daily Value per reference amount; and that it does not exceed any of the FDA disqualifying levels – 13 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 60 mg of cholesterol, or 480 mg of sodium per reference amount,” says Alcantara.


Either dairy calcium or inorganic calcium (calcium carbonate) can be combined with protein isolates. “What you’re getting there is the calcium and the functionality,” says Lee Huffman, Ph.D., technical service manager, New Zealand Milk Products (North America) Inc., Santa Rosa, CA. “Calcium can be problematic in formulation – it settles out, tastes gritty. We’re addressing a processing functionality issue with a huge benefit in nutrition.” If it’s a source of protein and calcium that you’re looking for, milk proteins are some of the best choices available.



Protein Power

Caseins and whey proteins make up the major protein content in milk, with caseins accounting for approximately 80%. The caseins are comprised of the a-caseins, AY-caseins, k-caseins, and y-caseins, while the whey proteins include AY-lactoglobulins, a-lactalbumin, proteose peptones, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobulins. The specific make-up of the milk depends on a number of factors, according to Huffman. “It starts with the feeding of the cow, the process, how the milk is handled – heated, cooled, stored.” The purification process then affects the content of the ingredients produced. “That’s why you can get such a wide range of ingredients from milk,” she says.

If a protein coagulates, its nutritional value remains virtually the same, although there may be slight differences – a denatured protein might have a digestibility of 97, as opposed to 98 for the undenatured product, for example. Sometimes “denatured” is linked in people’s minds with “less digestible.” This has been a huge issue in the sports area lately, in fact, with some thinking that if you heat a protein, it’s not accessible to the body. But although there are some extreme conditions of heat, pH and time that can make amino acids unavailable to the body, those conditions are not used in processing ingredients. However, while differences between denatured and undenatured forms are negligible nutritionally, product designers must remember that differences will show up in functionality.

With 75 million people suffering from the effects of osteoporosis in Europe, Japan and the United States, improving calcium absorption is a concern. Other minerals such as iron, manganese, copper and selenium can also be sequestered by casein phosphopeptides. Some current applications include toothpaste and other personal hygiene products. Potential applications include calcium-enriched tablets, chewing gums, instant drink mixes, liquid formulas, UHT milk, confections, and a number of other fortified products. 

Whey proteins are heat-sensitive, so most are processed at lower temperatures to minimize denaturation. On the other hand, caseins are denatured by acid; “that’s how you get the casein from milk,” Huffman notes. “They’re totally different from a globular whey protein; they are a random coil, so casein is heat-stable. At neutral pH, caseins are soluble; you take it down to a pH of 4.6, their isoelectric point, they become insoluble. Back up to pH 7, they’re soluble again. 

Casein proteins form a micellular structure by incorporating calcium and phosphate ions, thus providing a source of phosphopeptides. The enzymatic hydrolysis of casein can produce a compound called casein phosphopeptide. “Casein phosphopeptides enhance the absorption of calcium by forming soluble complexes,” says Andrew Corker, product manager, bioactives, DMV International Nutritionals, Fraser, NY. “Approximately 375 mg of casein phosphopeptide is required to solubilize 100 mg of calcium,” he says.

If a product developer is looking for a protein source for a special dietary need, such as non-allergenicity, milk-protein hydrolysates are an excellent choice. “Both whey proteins and casein can be hydrolyzed with specific enzyme blends to varying levels of hydrolysis,” says Abbie More, product manager, hydrolysates, DMV. As the level of hydrolysis increases, the digestibility, nitrogen absorption and retention also increase, and the allergenicity of the protein decreases. “A product with low to moderate levels of hydrolysis is well suited for sports nutrition products, protein tablets and instant drinks,” says More. Medium and high hydrolysis levels are targeted for clinical, enteral and infant-formula applications. “A product with a high level of hydrolysis is designed for non-allergenic applications like special infant formulas,” she adds.



Whey the benefits

Whey proteins are separated from casein by isoelectric precipitation at pH 4.6, or by the action of rennet in cheesemaking. Whey-protein isolate contains approximately 92% protein at 4% moisture. The flavor is generally thought of as bland, but because lactose and fat are present in such low quantities, the taste is different from that of milk.

Another method, now the standard in many cases, is the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS). This method also ranks whey-protein isolate as one of the best protein sources, assigning it a score of 1.0. This method does not account for any amino acids in excess of the requirements of the human body. (For more information on evaluation of the nutritional value of proteins, see “Protein Possibilities” in the October 1997 issue of Food Product Design.)

Sports beverages utilize whey-protein isolates and whey-protein concentrates for their balance of protein fractions. “Athletes choose products with whey proteins for quick absorption and muscle repair,” says Julie Wagner, director of applications, Century Foods International, Sparta, WI. “The categories that incorporate whey proteins as a part of their nutritional profile are very-high-protein products (20 to 24 grams of protein per serving); meal replacements; weight-gain products; and pre-workout drinks,” she says. Each category is designed for specific benefits to an athlete or body builder, such as providing quick energy for a workout, adding calories for weight and muscle gain, or for recovery from a workout and muscle repair. “A formulator needs to consider the metabolism requirements and taste preferences of individuals when formulating sports beverages,” adds Wagner.

Even more exciting news is associated with the biological activity of the individual whey proteins. Beta-lactoglobulin is considered a retinol-binding protein thought to bind vitamin A and supply this vitamin to the newborn. Only the milk from animals that depend on passive immunity contains ß-lactoglobulin. It is thought that it may have other roles in addition to retinol binding, such as regulating milk synthesis. Both AY-lactoglobulin and a-lactalbumin influence mitotic activity in the mammary gland and protein-synthesis capacity; AY-lactoglobulin is also the major allergen in milk.

Whey proteins have one of the highest biological values as compared to other protein sources such as egg, milk, beef, soy and casein when measured according to the protein efficiency ratio (PER) method.

Whey has an excess of essential amino acids,” says Huffman. Casein does also, but they have a slight difference in protein digestibility – maybe less than 1% difference. What the PDCAAS method doesn’t do is go beyond and look at some of the individual components that may be important. “When using a milk-based protein, there’s also other nutritional components that come along with it,” says Huffman.

The level of essential amino acids in whey proteins exceeds all other sources such as egg, casein and soy; the essential amino acids make up approximately 60% of whey’s total protein content. Whey contains a particularly high level of leucine and lysine, as compared to soy-protein isolate or dehydrated egg white, and is a good source of the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. These amino acids maintain antioxidant levels in the body, and are thought to stabilize DNA during cell division. Animal studies with total whey protein have shown beneficial effects on chemically induced cancers, stimulation of the immune system, and increases in life span. In other animal studies, whey proteins were able to lower LDL cholesterol and promote the release of cholesystokinin, an appetite-suppressing hormone.

Another advantage to formulating with whey proteins is the high level (nearly 26%) of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These can provide a benefit for athletic beverages or other products designed to provide energy for those who undergo intense or prolonged exercise. The BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) directly supply energy to the skeletal muscles during extensive exercise, rather than first being metabolized through the liver like the other amino acids. Since the body’s demand for these three amino acids increases during exercise, athletes who want to preserve muscle mass like to increase their consumption.

The main biological role for a-lactalbumin is lactose synthesis in the mammary gland. It also binds metal ions such as calcium, and there’s been some research that indicates this protein has anti-tumor effects as well.


Bioactive Whey Proteins

Although bioactive proteins make up a very small part of the total proteins in milk, they are generating a lot of news. These proteins include lactoferrin, lysozyme, lactoperoxidase, folate-binding protein, and induced bioactive components. The unique functions of these individual components within milk can also be utilized in foods.

Lactoferrin’s functionality in the body makes it ideal for applications like infant formula, nutritional bars, and sports and performance products,” says Goebel. Some of the interest in infant-formula applications originates from the comparison of human milk to bovine milk. Two proteins that occur at higher levels in human milk than in infant formula are a-lactalbumin and lactoferrin. Lactoferrin concentration in human milk is 0.20 grams per 100 ml, and 0.01 grams per 100 ml in mature cow’s milk.

For maximizing bioactivity, there’s even more to be gained from induced bioactive milk components. Many induced bioactive peptides with either casein or whey-protein precursors have been identified in milk. The peptides derived from caseins are called casomorphins. Some are opioid agonists, meaning that they bind to opioid receptors and exhibit morphine-like functions. Some, derived from lactoferrin or k-casein, are opioid antagonists, meaning that they suppress the agonist activity of enkephalin and have an effect on smooth muscle. These phosphopeptides are also considered induced bioactive peptides, and have the function of carrying minerals. Glycomacropeptide is formed during the cheesemaking process from the reaction of chymosin with k-casein. Whey protein consists of 15% to 20% glycomacropeptide.

Whey-protein isolate (WPI) that has been manufactured by microfiltration contains the glycomacropeptide protein fraction, while WPI manufactured by ion exchange does not retain this fraction,” says Wagner. The microfiltration process also retains more calcium, phosphorous and potassium, with less sodium in the final product. “Glycomacropeptide has been shown to stimulate the synthesis and release of cholesystokin in the body,” she adds. Cholesystokin in plays a role in the regulation of digestion and functions as an appetite suppressant.





Lactoferrin sequesters the iron in milk, thus naturally extending its shelf life by making the iron unavailable for bacterial growth,” says O’Donnell. Lactoferrin’s ability to bind free iron enables it to function as an antibacterial agent in the body as well. The action of specific proteases, such as pepsin, can convert lactoferrin into a compound called lactoferricin, which possesses broad-spectrum activity against pathogenic bacteria and yeast. “Lactoferrin can be manufactured with varying iron contents to differentiate and enhance its bioactive properties,” says Goebel. All types are recommended to enhance the immune system and promote intestinal cell growth. The lowest level of iron content can provide unfavorable conditions for gram-negative bacteria, while the highest levels are well-suited for binding and transporting iron.

Lysozyme and lactoperoxidase are also effective antibacterial proteins. Lysozyme works to extend the shelf life of milk via hydrolysis of glucosidic linkages in the peptidoglycan of bacterial cell walls. The alkalinity of this enzyme, which is also found in tears and saliva, contributes to its antibacterial activity. Lactoperoxidase catalyzes the oxidation of thiocyanate to hypothiocyanate via hydrogen peroxide. It is part of a complex that works against gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The lactoperoxidase system is being used for acne preparations, shampoos, toothpaste, soft-serve ice cream, and pastry cream.

Immunoglobulins are considered an important bioactive component in whey. Colostrum contains very high levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG). Immunoglobulins are commercially available, and have applications in treatments for AIDS-related symptoms such as cryptosporidia diarrhea. Although all of these components are found in whey, many are not commercially isolated from whey due to economics. Specific doses and their benefits have not yet been resolved for the purpose of regulatory approval for most of these protein fractions.

Colostrum has been on the market as a health-food product for a number of years. It’s not milk, but the pre-milk fluid from a cow just before and after calving. Its effects, for the most part, are anecdotal, although some studies have been conducted. The driving factor is that it’s high in immunoglobulins and that it might confer some health-enhancing properties. Dehydrated colostrum is similar to nonfat dry milk, although higher in protein content and immunoglobulins.




Dairy fats

Sources of nutrition and bioactivity do not end with milk proteins – milkfat contains some healthy components that are gaining press as well, despite the common mental picture of clogged arteries resulting from cholesterol-containing butter, cream and anything else that contains milk fat.

CLA consists of one or more positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid (cis-9, cis-12 octadecadienoic acid). CLA’s conjugated double bonds are usually at positions 9 and 11, or 10 and 12, with each double bond either in the cis or trans configuration. Australian studies published by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences showed that CLA inhibited proliferation of human malignant melanomas and colorectal, breast and lung cancer cell lines. In animals, results included reduced incidence of chemically induced mouse epidermal tumors, mouse fore-stomach neoplasia, and aberrant crypt foci in rat colons.

Butyric acid has been shown to regulate cell death by inhibiting uncontrolled proliferation and supporting normal apoptosis (normal cell death), in a number of cancer cell types, says O’Donnell.

Milk fat is the most complex fat system known to man,” says O’Donnell. Recent research indicates that milkfat contains potential anticarcinogenic components, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), sphingomyelin, butyric acid and ether lipids.

Sphingomyelin is a phospholipid located in the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane of most mammalian cells. In cow’s milk, phospholipids represent 0.2 to 1.0 gram per 100 grams of total lipids, and are associated with the milkfat globule membrane. When milk is processed, this membrane is disrupted, and the phospholipids can relocate to the aqueous or serum phases. The amount transferred depends upon the type and severity of the processing. Sphingomyelin comprises about one-third of the total milk phospholipids.


The Scoop on Milk Sugar

One of the most controversial nutrients in milk is lactose, due to issues with its digestibility. Lactose intolerance seems to be a popular syndrome these days. The concern is that people may be eliminating milk products from their diets unnecessarily, which would also mean the elimination of many of milk’s essential nutrients from their diets, especially calcium.

Lactose intake does not induce lactase activity. Decline in lactase activity is often called lactase nonpersistence, lactose maldigestion or primary lactase deficiency. Lactase deficiency is defined as congenital, secondary or primary. Congenital deficiency is extremely rare, and is diagnosed when the lactase enzyme is absent or severely reduced throughout life. Diseases or damage to the intestinal mucosa, where lactase is active, causes secondary lactase deficiency.

Self-diagnosis is not recommended, because it could lead to a loss in nutrition or failure to detect more serious gastrointestinal problems. A typical clinical test used is called the breath hydrogen test. It measures the amount of hydrogen gas formed by the fermentation of any undigested lactose by the bacteria in the colon. A dose of 50 grams of lactose in aqueous solution (equivalent to the amount in one quart of milk) is typically used in this case. “Studies have shown that many individuals judged to be lactose intolerant according to clinical tests can consume one cup of milk with no problem,” says Alcantara. “One important reason is that an 8-oz. serving of milk provides 12 grams of lactose, which most individuals can handle, especially when consumed with a meal,” she adds.

Both human milk and cow’s milk contain lactose. Lactose is a disaccharide consisting of the monosaccharides glucose and galactose. Dietary lactose is not absorbed intact, but must be hydrolyzed in the small intestine by the intestinal enzyme lactase. Lactase activity is high until a child is weaned, and then declines in many population groups.

Primary lactase deficiency is the most common form, and the decrease in lactase activity is one factor influencing whether symptoms of lactose intolerance develop. Lactose intolerance is characterized by the development of symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea.

The prevalence of lactose maldigestion appears to vary widely among different racial and ethnic groups. In the United States, lactose maldigestion is estimated to be about 6% to 19% in whites, 53% in Mexican Americans, 62% to 100% in Native Americans, 80% in African Americans, and 90% in Asian Americans. Many of these adults may not necessarily experience the symptoms of intolerance, however.

Many people can avoid problems related to lactose maldigestion by drinking milk with a meal, eating aged cheeses, or eating yogurt with active cultures,” says Miller. Typically, whole milk and chocolate milk are better tolerated than lower-fat milks. Ice cream and cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan and cottage cheese may be tolerated better than milk because of their lower lactose content. Oral lactase enzyme supplements, when ingested before consuming dairy foods, may also work well for some people.

Milk for the Millennium

Where are milk products heading in the future?

The dairy industry is beginning to use “protein fractionation” to separate out some of the bioactive components found in dairy proteins. “We’ve had the technologies for years,” Huffman says. “But having the technology be cost-effective so that the ingredients are economical enough for consumers is just starting. Now that processors can make isolates economically, the next step is to fractionate the components.” This is happening with both casein and whey protein, she says. “There are some commercial fractions that have been isolated. One is lactoferrin, the other is lactoperoxidase.” These are popular in Asia because of high interest in functional foods, and because the consumer is willing to pay higher prices for the products.

Researchers will continue to demonstrate the role of bioactive components and discover new bioactive compounds in milk. As we gain a better understanding of the role of bioactivity and functional foods, regulatory agencies will better define potential nutrient claims. Regardless of the changes to be made in milk and milk products in the future, the message will remain the same: Milk is a great nutritional package.

Product designers may want to keep an eye out for a-lactalbumin-enriched whey protein, AY-lactoglobulin-enriched whey protein, casein phosphopeptides and various peptides from hydrolyzed protein. But dairy science won’t stop with improved processing; they’ll go straight to the cow. “In the future, scientists will be able to modify the expression level of genes in the cow, to selectively change the milk’s nutritional and functional properties,” says O’Donnell. Imagine the ability to produce a cow’s milk for infants that is more like human milk, with the absence of AY-lactoglobulin and increased levels of lysozyme and lactoferrin. Increasing the concentrations of lysozyme and lactoferrin could also possibly increase the shelf life of milk. Or how about developing lactose-reduced milk for those with lactose intolerance?

Non-Dairy Milks: Think Twice Before Buying! : Icky additives in non-dairy milk

Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, hempmilk new varieties of non-dairy milks have been popping up all over grocery store shelves. But are these milk substitutes healthy? Well, not really. While these milk substitutes sound good according to the claims on the packages (things like as much calcium as milk and heart healthy), the ingredients in these processed products tell a different story. Here are seven reasons to think twice before buying non-dairy milks.


This seaweed-based additive is extremely inflammatory and should be fastidiously avoided. As a matter of fact, carrageenan is so caustic to the digestive tract that researchers use it to induce colitis in lab animals! The World Health Organization classifies one type of carrageenan as a possible human carcinogen (learn more about carrageenan here). Lesson? Just because a carton of Almond Milk claims the titles organic and heart healthy does not mean it should be a part of your diet.

2.Natural flavors

This term conveniently eliminates the need to list unsavory additives on the ingredient list. Natural flavors can even mean forms of MSG and artificial sweeteners. I want to know EXACTLY what is in the food that I eat. That is why I prepare most of my food from scratch and only purchase ingredients from companies who have the rare integrity to list every single ingredient on their product. I feel a visceral distrust of a company that puts natural flavors on their ingredient list.

3.Vegetable oils

Most nut or seed milks contain canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower seed oil, and/or soybean oil which are all bad news. Vegetable oils are a freak of nature after all, it takes a lot of effort to get a gallon of oil from corn! Vegetable oils are extracted with toxic solvents as well as high heat and pressure, agents that rancidify the delicate chemical structure of the fatty acids. Further, corn and soy oils are most likely from heavily-sprayed and GMO crops.

To prove my point, watch this video on How Canola Oil Is Made. You wont believe it until you see it! Canola oil is simply not fit for human consumption (or animal consumption, either, for that matter). Vegetable oils = icky Period.


When it comes to non-dairy milk options, soy milk is by far the worst choice. For the sake of keeping this post a reasonable length, I am just going to give you some of the detrimental health consequences of soy in a nutshell

Soy contains high amounts of phytoestrogens which may cause estrogen dominance.

Pre-pubescent boys are most susceptible to (often irreversible) hormone damage by consuming soy products and parents should make a careful effort to never feed their babies soy-based formulas.

Soy impairs thyroid function which lowers metabolism. This leads to hair thinning, skin problems, and weight gain.

Soy contains substances that interfere with protein digestion. This can cause serious pancreas problems, including pancreatic cancer.

Soy is super high in mineral-blocking phytic acid.

Want more details and studies on the horrors of soy? I recommend The Whole Soy Story by Dr. Kaayla Daniels.

5.Vitamin D2

The natural vitamin D in real milk, as well as the D the human body produces from sun exposure, is D3. Vitamins in a whole-food form, such as in raw milk, provide an easily-assimilated form of the nutrients along with important cofactors for absorption. Vitamin D2 is a synthetic and isolated form of the vitamin and, as a result, is extremely poorly absorbed (heres the study). It offers no viable benefit to the body and may actually be harmful.

Some experts believe that D2 actually desentitizes the D3 receptors, making us more prone to vitamin D deficiency! Stay far, far away from the D2.

6.Other isolated vitamins

TabletsWhen it comes to processed foods, the sum of the parts does not equal the whole. Heres what I mean in the case of milk substitutes: companies isolate forms of vitamins and minerals and add it into the milk substitute base. But just because a rice milk claims to have as much calcium as regular milk does not mean the body absorbs and utilizes the calcium from both items the same way. I believe nutrients are always better absorbed in the whole-food form.

For example, real, whole milk provides adequate saturated fats to help the body utilize the calcium and fat-soluble vitamins in the milk. Non-dairy milks offer no natural co-factors to allow assimilation of the vitamins.

As another example, non-dairy milks often contain synthetic vitamin A. While naturally-occuring (non-isolated, food-source) vitamin A only creates toxicity in uber-extreme doses, moderate overdoses of synthetic vitamin A can cause toxicity (read more about synthetic vs. natural vitamin A). This is because the body cannot assimilate the synthetic version of the vitamin.

7.Bonus: Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors

(Not an additive, but natural anti-nutrients)

As explained in Nourishing Traditions, traditional cultures soaked their nuts and seeds in a salty brine and then dried them in the sun. This reduced the phytic acid content (a substance which impairs mineral absorption) and the naturally-occuring enzyme inhibitors (which cause digestive distress and impair protein digestion). I know that many of you are already fans of soaking and dehydrating your nuts/seeds to make the nutrients more bioavaiable. Unfortunately, commercially-prepared non-dairy milks are not made from properly prepared nuts/seeds.

To learn more please visit the source website by clicking here.

Why Milk Is The Ultimate Post Workout Food

Post workout nutrition is crucial for muscle recovery & rehydration. The common advice is to have whey after a weight lifting session because its a fast protein. You want to get protein in your muscles as fast as you can for recovery.

Truth or marketing from supplement companies? Fact is that many weight lifters have used milk as a post workout drink for years. After reading this post youll know why its the ultimate post workout food for many people.

Milk Content

1 cup (250ml) whole milk contains 8g protein, 13g carbs & 8g fat for a total of 150kcal. 1 cup also has 290mg calcium & 107g sodium. This combo makes milk perfect for lean body mass gains & recovery.


Slow digesting protein. Milk consists for 80% of casein, a dairy protein that keeps you full longer and helps fat loss & muscle repair.


Fast digesting protein. Milk consists for 20% of whey which helps muscle repair. This is the same kind of whey you find in protein shakes.


 Milk is rich in branched chain amino acids : leucine, isoleucine and valine. A diet rich in protein, especially dairy protein like milk, will get you plenty of BCAAs. No need to waste your money on supplements.


Milk contains lactose. Your body uses this sugar to replenish your energy stores. Some cant digest lactose. Check the tips at the bottom.


Unless you go fat-free, milk contains 1 to 3g fat per 100ml. Fats digest slowly and keep you full longer, thus decreasing hunger.


Dairy calcium increases fat loss & improves bone health. The latter is especially important if your a woman (osteoporosis).


Milk is about 87% water. Proper hydration improves muscle recovery and can increase strength by preventing fatigue & stalling.


Milk contains sodium & potassium. These minerals improve re-hydration by retaining the fluids you consume post workout.


Biotin, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, vitamin K, riboflavin and many others (naturally or through fortification).

5 Reasons You Should Drink Milk Post Workout

Muscle Gains : Research shows a mix of slow and fast digesting protein is superior for lean body mass gains. Milk is 80% casein, 20% whey.

Fat Loss : Dairy calcium increases fat loss. The fat in milk keeps you full longer which decreases hunger and thus helps you to lose fat.

Recovery : Milk is a fluid and has electrolytes. Research shows milk is superior to water and sport drinks for rehydration post workout.

Cheap : When you consider the protein (whey/casein/BCAA) and calorie content of milk, its one of the cheapest foods available.

Easy : Milk requires zero preparation. 1 quarter (1 liter) milk can be a perfect post workout meal depending on your daily caloric needs.

Milk vs Whey

Some people still believe you need whey post workout. Probably because supplement companies keep pushing it. But studies show slow protein OR a mix of slow & fast protein is superior for lean body mass gains.

Whey is a fast protein. While milk is a combination of slow & fast protein (casein & whey). Thats why milk post workout is superior to whey but also to soy milk for lean body mass gains: whey & soy milk are fast digesting proteins.

If you dont drink milk, the point is that a slow OR mix of slow & fast protein is better post workout. So even meat, poultry or fish is better than whey. Turns out many people have used solid meals post workout with success.

I havent used whey since a long time. I have milk post workout and/or a solid meal that consists of meat, grains & some fats. Exodus shared in this post that he got ripped using a similar kind of post workout meal.

Milk vs Sports Drinks

Strength training causes water loss through sweating. Rehydration is crucial for muscle recovery since dehydration can cause stalling. Signs of dehydration: fatigue & headaches (think hangovers).

Studies show milk is superior to water and sport drinks for rehydration. Heres why: milk is rich in sodium & potassium which retain fluid, but also in protein & fat which slow digestion. Less hunger, longer hydration.

I dont recommend sport drinks if you do strength training. Their sugar content will make you fat. Have a solid meal and/or milk and drink plenty of water post workout. Sport drinks are for endurance athletes, not weight lifters.

Whole Milk vs Fat Free Milk

Studies show whole milk causes more lean body mass gains than fat free milk. Since slower protein is better post workout, this could be why whole milk is superior: its fat content could slow absorption.

The fat in whole milk makes it tastier than fat free milk & keeps you full longer. So youll tend to eat less with whole milk and be less hungry. Although the fat content in whole milk can be an issue since its more caloric dense.

Whole milk:30g protein, 40g carbs, 35g fat, 600kcal.

Low fat milk :30g protein, 40g carbs, 10g fat, 370kcal.

Non fat milk :30g protein, 40g carbs, 0g fat, 280kcal.

Low fat choco milk :30g protein, 115g carbs, 10g fat, 670kcal.

Nutritional values are for 1 quart (1 liter) milk.

Milk Recommendations for Fat Loss

To lose fat, you need to eat less calories and/or burn more calories. Milk wont make you fat. Neither will the fat content in fatty milk make you fat. Only excess calories cause fat gains.

Smoothing is possible when introducing milk in your diet (read below). But this isnt fat gain. No food can make you fat if you have a caloric deficit. Just like any food, including protein, can cause fat gains when you have a caloric excess.

Research clearly shows that whole milk causes more lean body mass gains than non fat milk. Which proves fat does not make you fat. Excess calories do. As long as you have a caloric deficit, it does not matter if you drink non fat or whole milk.

So which milk you should drink post workout depends on your caloric needs for fat loss, which depend on your body-weight most.

Example : If youre 220lbs, you need about 2800kcal/day to lose fat. 1 quart whole milk post workout leaves room for 2200kcal the rest of the day.

But if youre 160lbs, you need about 1900kcal/day for fat loss. 1 quart whole milk only leaves 1300kcal. Or only 325kcal/meal if you eat 4x/day. Smaller meals dont fill your stomach and could cause hunger.

So if youre on the lighter side and need to lose fat, you have 2 options:

Drink smaller quantities whole milk: 1 cup has 150kcal, 2 cups 300kcal.

Drink low fat milk: 1 quart has 370kcal, 2 cups 185kcal.

Everything depends on your caloric needs for fat loss. Rule of thumb: 13kcal/lb of body-weight (or 11kcal/lb if youre a woman). Do the math and make the milk fit within your caloric needs.

I recommend low fat milk over non fat milk because the difference in calories is insignificant. Low fat milk has only 90kcal more when you drink 1 quart and only 45kcal more when you drink 2 cups. Not a big deal.

On top of that, research shows that fattier milk causes more lean body mass. So drink low fat milk if you cant make whole milk fit in your diet. Remember to drink milk post workout only if you follow the 8 nutrition rules, milk has carbs.

Milk Recommendations for Weight Gain

To gain weight, you need to have a caloric excess: eat more calories and/or burn less calories. Since burning less calories is hard to do, this means you have to eat more.

So it makes sense to drink 1 quart whole milk post workout: more calories and according to research more lean body mass gains. A more extreme version of this is obviously GOMAD: gallon of whole milk a day.

Chocolate milk could work too calorie wise. But it could be less effective than whole milk since it has less fat. Chocolate milk also seems to constipate.

Quick Tips : Some people cant digest lactose. And many people experience smoothing from milk which they always mistake for fat gains.

Lactose Intolerance : Take lactase pills with your milk if you get gas or diarrhea. Avoid lactaid-free milk: its convenient but more expensive.

Smoothing : Milk is rich in sodium. Going from low to high sodium intakes causes water retention. Solution: increase your sodium intake. Eat more dairy products, eat pickles, supplement with real sea salt.