Do you consume dairy products on a daily basis? Most of us in the U.S. have been taught to
do so despite the fact that many people don’t fare well with these foods. In fact, an estimated
30 to 50 million American adults are lactose intolerant, which means they have trouble
digesting lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. This intolerance appears to have a genetic
component. Populations most affected include Asians (95%), African Americans (60-80%),
American Indians (80-100%), and Hispanics (80%).
If you need to avoid lactose, you’ll find that many companies offer lactose-free options, including milk, cottage cheese, and high-quality whey protein powder. Dairy alternatives are also increasingly available, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream made from soy, almonds or rice. Bear in mind, however, that many health professionals feel soy is best consumed in moderation.
Assuming you eat dairy foods, what do you select? As with carbohydrates, some choices are healthier than others. By now you know that butter, cream, whole milk, cream cheese and ice cream are loaded with saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, stroke and cancer. Even low-fat dairy products are fat-laden. For example, when you buy 2% milk, you’re actually getting 37% fat!
So, what’s a health-conscious person to do? Fortunately, non-fat dairy products are available in virtually all categories, including milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and more. A great choice as a basic staple─and quite a versatile one─is plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, which is thick and rich with minimal calories. Try it with fresh organic berries, in lieu of sour cream, or to dilute sweetened yogurts if you offer them.
However, if you’re looking for easily digested, nutrient-packed, complete protein, your best bet is a daily whey-protein shake. You’ll get 20-40 grams of highly nourishing, quickly assimilated protein without the fat and lactose that comes with dairy products. These luscious recipes will make a splash with adults and kids alike. Here’s to your health!