Ditch the Milkshake for a Yogurt Break: Celebrate Dairy Smarter in June!

June is National Dairy Month, but before you rush to the grocery store to grab some milk, it’s important to remember that not all dairy products are created equal. Although the “Got Milk?” advertising campaign has pushed the health benefits of milk, when looking for dairy products that are truly beneficial to your well-being, store-bought milk might not be the best option.

The milk available in the supermarket typically comes from cows fed high-protein soybean meal along with growth hormones to maximize milk production. While these methods may boost profits for dairy farmers, they also increase the cows’ chances of developing various health issues, such as mastitis, liver problems, and pituitary gland dysfunction. As a result, cows are given frequent doses of antibiotics, and traces of these drugs can end up in your milk. “Got Synthetic Growth Hormone?” and “Got Antibiotic Residues?” are not appealing thoughts as you enjoy your next milkshake.

A Better Alternative: Yogurt

If you’re a dairy-lover, a healthier option is yogurt, which is packed with gut-friendly properties. Most people who cannot tolerate milk proteins or lactose can still digest yogurt, as the culturing process makes it easier on the digestive system. Here are some benefits you can expect from the friendly probiotic bacteria found in yogurt:

  1. Improved colon health: The lactobacteria in yogurt help promote a healthier colon function, potentially decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
  2. Enhanced nutrient absorption: Active yogurt cultures assist your body in breaking down vital nutrients like calcium and B-vitamins.
  3. Increased immunity: Probiotics, the active cultures in yogurt, can boost the number of disease-fighting cells in your body, helping prevent various illnesses.
  4. Healthier intestinal lining: Many gastrointestinal disorders can severely damage the lining of your intestines, leading to stomach aches and diarrhea. Yogurt can sometimes remedy irritable bowel syndrome, gas, and bloating.

Choosing the Right Yogurt

Clearly, yogurt can provide various health benefits, but how can you be sure you’re getting the most out of your yogurt? Here are a few tips to help you choose the healthiest option:

  • Go for plain yogurt: Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt with no added sugars and flavorings. You can sweeten your yogurt naturally by adding your own honey and fresh fruit.

  • Watch for probiotic content: Look for yogurt with “Active Live Cultures” or “Living Yogurt Cultures” on the label, as these ensure that the product still contains beneficial probiotics.

  • Avoid unnecessary additives: Some yogurt brands add artificial sweeteners, colors, or thickeners, which may negate the health benefits. Always read the ingredient list to ensure the product is free from unnecessary additives.

  • Select a reputable brand: Higher quality yogurt often comes from reputable brands that prioritize natural ingredients and sustainable practices. Choose companies that are transparent about their farming and manufacturing methods.

Additional Dairy Alternatives

Although yogurt is an excellent healthy dairy option, a growing number of other dairy alternatives are available that may also provide numerous health benefits:

  1. Kefir: A fermented milk product similar to yogurt, kefir contains a variety of nutrients and probiotics that support overall health, particularly gut and digestive health. Some studies have even linked kefir consumption to improved lactose digestion among lactose intolerant individuals.

  2. Sour cream: Although it can be high in fat, full-fat sour cream can still be a part of a balanced diet. Consumed in moderation, sour cream may help support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Choose a sour cream with minimal preservatives and no added sugars.

  3. Butter and ghee: Unlike margarine, which contains unhealthy trans fats, butter and ghee (clarified butter) contain healthy saturated fats that may promote overall health when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

In conclusion, while you may want to pass on the milk this National Dairy Month, there are plenty of other dairy options like yogurt, kefir, sour cream, butter, and ghee that can provide an array of health benefits. Enjoy these alternatives as part of a balanced diet, and pay attention to the quality and ingredients of the dairy products you choose.