When it comes to controversial nutrition topics, dairy is on the top of the list. There’s a lot of information out there about the pros and cons of consuming dairy as part of a healthy diet, and it can be daunting to sort through fact from fiction. Some athletes love having low-fat or nonfat dairy as a daily staple, however, other athletes choose to avoid it at all costs due to health concerns or intolerance. Here’s a breakdown of some of the major pros and cons of dairy, which can help you make an informed choice about what fuels your system.
The proteins found in dairy, including whey and casein, are known to have a high biological value, which means they offer the full line of essential amino acids and are pretty easy for the body to absorb.
Dairy foods are among the best sources of calcium and vitamin D, the major duo involved in maintaining strong, dense bones. Emerging research on vitamin D suggests that it likely plays a significant role in fighting inflammation and supporting immune function. There is also some evidence that milk-based proteins can help lower or maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
Unless you buy organic versions, dairy products may contain traces of hormones or antibiotics from the supplements that cows are given. Even if a food label from a dairy product says “no added hormones,” it may be possible for traces of the hormone to reach the milk since many farms allow cows to become pregnant when they give milk. In addition, cows are often given iodine-fortified feeds to fight infection. It is possible that the small amount of iodine found in dairy may cause skin problems for those prone to acne.
If you choose to incorporate dairy into your meals and snacks, choose lite, reduced fat, or nonfat versions. The saturated fat content of full-fat dairy can clog arteries and promote systemic inflammation.