As students, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet – starting right from drinking milk. And chances are, if you have parents like mine, you probably heard the sentence “Drink your milk!” a thousand times a day growing up. The calcium in that glass of milk was to help us grow tall and strong (something that, no matter how much milk I drank, just did not end up happening for me). But now you are in university and perhaps you do not have the luxury of hearing your parents recite their little mantra to you still, as I do (living at home does have its disadvantages, I guess). Therefore, with your parents not constantly at your back telling you what to eat and what you should stay away from, it can be a exciting and – if truth be told – a little intimidating. How are you supposed to remember to buy all those good foods and drinks while still having enough money for the fun things life has to offer? And chances are, living on a stressed student schedule has probably left you a little lazy when it comes to drinking enough milk and maintaining that balanced diet your parents were so careful to plan for you.
But that is where we come in. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always feel confused when looking at all the different milks available – from cow milk to almond milk, soy milk to rice milk. There are so many to choose from, but how do I know which one is truly going to benefit me? If you have questioned these milks and do not know which path to choose, fear not! I have talked to nutritionists from all over Canada to get the 411 on this tricky liquid.
We all know that milk is an incredibly important part of our diet. It provides our bodies with protein, Vitamins A and D, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. But all those “drink milk” ads that bombard our television screens can be misleading, says Edmonton nutritionist Christal Yaciuk-Sczebel. “Most of the calcium found in cow’s milk is bound to the milk protein casein, which makes it very hard to be absorbed in the human body.” For years, those who were lactose intolerant were left forgotten because cow’s milk was the only recognized milk. Nowadays, though, that has all changed. Whether you are lactose intolerant, vegan, have a milk allergy or simply do not like the taste of milk, there are options for you, such as…
There are many differing perspectives on soy milk. According to Saskatchewan nutritionist Noelle Tourney: “From a nutritional standpoint, soy milk is the most similar to cow’s milk. It has almost as much protein and soy milk is often fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.” But Yaciuk-Sczebel is not so sure. “Soy milk is often highly processed containing added sugars,” she explains, “and soy can also be a common allergen (and in large doses can be detrimental as well because of the phytoestrogens found in soy).” Whatever your preference, though, there are many choices of soy milk in grocery stores, from flavoured to sweetened, unsweetened to low-fat.
Almond milk is another healthy alternative to cow milk. For those who are health-conscious, almond milk is a great option because it is low in calories and fat and is free of cholesterol. But while this milk has got everything going for it, it does lack the high amount of protein that its soy and cow milk counterparts have, says Tourney. Almond milk has a natural nutty taste, but if nuts are not your thing, you can choose from different flavours just like soy milk offers. “However, because almond milk does not have sugar naturally, many manufacturers add sugar to it during processing to improve taste,” Yaciuk-Sczebel adds. Thankfully, now unsweetened brands of almond milk are hitting the shelves, so Yaciuk-Sczebel recommends going for those brands because “the less sugar the better.”
While rice milk can be a good source of calcium and Vitamin D (check the label because not all milk brands are fortified with calcium or Vitamin D), Tourney says it is not as creamy as other milks and often lack the amount of protein our bodies require. It also has an acquired taste, so not everyone will enjoy this alternative milk, which is why Yaciuk-Sczebel recommends almond milk over rice milk any day.
Whichever milk you decide is best for your lifestyle, make sure it has enough protein and calcium to help you keep up with those busy university days. You do not want to be dragging your feet come exams!
Category: Quick Eats