Which milk does a body good ?

All information in this post is the opinion of the author. All decisions regarding food choices should be the responsibility of the individual,  parents and your physician.  This post should serve as a guide and not medical care. Information here is based on personal experience,  individual preference,  reviews of respected research and experts opinions.

One of the main questions Pediatricians receive regularly is “When do I switch my child from formula or breast milk to cow’s milk?”

The  answer ( in the US) to this question has traditionally been whole cow’s milk.

But  a new paradigm is taking hold and the question has changed from when to switch to which  milk to switch to.

And now with so many choices of milk these days parents pose the question differently and want to know if they “can introduce more than just one milk ?”.

Can’t we treat it like any healthy beverage and have a child get used to a variety of tastes and types of milk?”  

Why can’t milk be a part of a wide variety of healthful options for our children?

The medical community myself included, have been steadfast in dedication to whole cow’s milk as the nutritional beverage of choice at a year and 2 % at 2 .

It is a perplexing issue for us Pediatricians who are given the scepter of decision to change from medical tradition which we have been promoting as medical science and truth, relying on the assumption that cow’s milk has the necessary nutritional qualities for our children and ourselves. But as parents are learning more about the health issues associated with cow’s milk there is increasing interest in choosing a healthier milk drink. Parents are doing their searches and concluding that standard cow’s milk may not be their choice of drink for their children . As guardians of health we cannot be complacent and hide behind what we have traditionally recommended with very little critical or scientific proof. We have to do our own due diligence and offer educated and informed advice for proper nutrition based on real science.

    With informed choice a parent can develop their child’s taste for many different healthful milk and smoothie beverages while adding natural organic foods to enhance the nutrition . You do not have to stick to the old single cow’s milk view for your child. You can base your milk choice on your child’s nutritional needs, allergies , and sensitivities, with the assistance of your Pediatrician. There are many ways to get healthy protein, fat, and calcium other than cow’s milk. There is really no scientific proof that the protein, calcium, or fat from cow’s milk is a superior source of nutrition for a growing child than from other sources.

    See the table below to get a better idea of the main nutrients in various milk. Mix and match . Try several different tastes.  As in all foods,  introduce one new milk type at a time. In subsequent articles we will review the benefit and problems with each milk type.

Look for the next article to see which milk I recommend and “ How to build a better Milk”.

  1 cup                                             Protein                  fat: sat/unsat           calcium       sugar

Cow’s milk       8 gm 8    4.6/2.5 305 mg 12 gm
Almond milk       1gm 3: .0/3 200 mg 10 gm
Soy milk       6.6 gm 4:  0.5/3 299 mg 9 gm
Hemp milk        5 gm 7:   1/6 20  mg 5 gm
Goat’s milk        8.7 gm 10: 6.5/3 327 mg 10.9 gm
Rice milk         0 gm 2 : 0/ 2 20mg 0
Coconut milk         6 gm 57: 51/3 38.4 8 gm

Sat- saturated fat is the fat that raises cholesterol causing inflammation and clogs arteries and not considered optimal for brain growth. We want to keep this type of fat ( generally animal fat) to a minimum. There is really no value to have this fat in our children’s milk  . Unsaturated plant fat can actually be helpful for nutrition and our overall heart health as we grow while still giving a better fat for brain development. There are a number of foods which are well documented to offer better fat and protein source than cow’s milk for our child’s diet.

These milks should only be part of a well balanced diet. Please consult your physician since each child and adult have different nutritional needs.  For instance almond milk has lower calories and less protein. Cow’s milk has more protein but unhealthy fat. Soy milk has more of what we need,  but the concern over the estrogen effect on girls and boys is pervasive with little real research.  

Healthful MD’s view is to look at the entirety of your child’s diet. Choose the milk or milks according to a child’s nutritional needs, health, and possible sensitivities . Then add foods or healthy ingredients to maximize healthful nutrients either to their diet or to their milk.

See next blog for guidance on how to” Build a better milk”