Every year on 1 June, World Milk Day has been observed to bring to our attention the importance of milk as a global food. But what are your thoughts on milk? These days it is easy to become confused with the overload of information stating one week that “insert food” is good for you and the next week it should be avoided completely. Ask anybody and they will have an opinion on whether milk is good or bad for you. Let’s have a look at the nutritional facts about milk and see if we can shed any light on this.
It’s a great source of protein. It provides one gram of protein per ounce and contains all the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body so we need a regular supply – these amino acids (another name for proteins) are used by the body for the repair and maintenance of the cells.
Milk has the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein making it a perfect drink for after a workout. After exercise, it is important to eat protein within 30 minutes and get it to the muscles straight away to start the repair process. A perfect choice would, therefore, be drinking a chocolate milkshake (magnesium to relax the muscles, calcium to help bones and milk protein to repair muscles).
If there is one thing that everybody knows about milk, is that it is a great source of calcium. This is the best marketing point of milk worldwide. Milk is extremely nutrient rich because it contains energy nutrients of carbohydrates, protein and fats and also calcium and vitamin D. Of course calcium can be found in all dark, green leafy vegetables however you would have to eat a lot of spinach to get the same amount of quickly drinking a glass of milk!
Most milk is now fortified with vitamin D. Actually this is an inactive form of vitamin D called provitamin D that when ingested, travels to the liver where it is converted to vitamin D that the body can use! Milk is one of the few sources of vitamin D in the diet (we all know that sunshine is our natural vitamin D supply and also mushrooms, egg yolks and salmon).
How can we include milk in our diet? It is said that we should aim for 3 portions of dairy a day in the form of yoghurt, cheese or fresh milk. Perhaps a healthy homemade milk smoothie in the morning, a cheese salad for lunch and a probiotic plain yoghurt in the afternoon as a snack?
Interesting fact about milk!
Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II drinks fresh milk every day from cows raised on her own Windsor estate? When her grandchildren William and Harry went to Eton, milk from the Royal cows was sent every day for the Prince’s breakfast.
But perhaps we should raise a glass (of milk of course) to Louis Pasteur, the 19th-century French biologist. The milk that we drink today contains little or no bacteria. He applied his heating technique from beer initially to milk, known as pasteurisation that is still in use today.