Today is World Milk Day, a day selected by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to focus attention on milk and recognize its importance as a global food. It has been observed on June 1 each year since 2001.
In recent years, there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding milk and whether or not it is healthy for kids. Get our take, plus the pros and cons of the debates, and then we hope you’ll join us to raise a glass or a Tetra Pak carton to celebrate the benefits of milk for our lives:
Milk vs. Milk Alternatives
Many parents today are questioning the conventional wisdom of feeding kids cow’s milk and turning instead to non-dairy alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk. But none offer the same naturally-occurring nutritional value as dairy milk.
Milk is usually considered a key part of a healthy diet for kids and is especially important to help build and maintain strong bones. It provides those children with a good source of calcium, vitamin A, protein, vitamin B12, potassium and vitamin D (in markets where milk is fortified). Milk is also a good source of other vital nutrients, including riboflavin, protein, phosphorus and the trace elements copper, zinc and manganese.
Milk and dairy products are nutrient-dense foods supplying energy and significant amounts of protein and micronutrients, which are essential to reduce hunger and malnutrition particularly amongst pregnant women and children. Picky eaters may struggle to get enough protein and calories in their diets, and milk is an easy, nutrient-rich way to deliver those calories.
According to William Sears, MD, “Milk is one-stop shopping for nutrition. It contains nearly all the basic nutrients that a growing child needs: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals (except iron). While it is true that most of the nutrients in milk can be gotten easily from other sources, such as vegetables, legumes, and seafood, milk puts them all together in a convenient package. Realistically, children eat or drink dairy products in greater amounts and more consistently than other foods. While whole milk is not the only way to get calcium in a child's diet, it's the most practical way."
We believe that milk is the best choice for most kids, but we recognize that it isn’t the best choice for all kids. Some children are allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant or have other dietary concerns, and we have developed Sneakz new Strawberry Vegan Powder with them in mind.
Organic vs. Conventional Milk
While conventional milk is a less expensive option, organic milk has been growing in popularity as consumers look for more natural products.
Organic milk is free from artificial hormones or antibiotics. It comes from cows whose feed was grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or genetically modified seeds and who spend much of the year grazing in open pastures, which has positive effects on the nutrition profile of the milk. Organic milk also has the advantage of a longer shelf life than conventional milk, which is due to most organic brands being sterilized at high temperatures.
Whole Milk vs. Low Fat
Some research suggests people who consume full-fat dairy weigh less and are less likely to develop diabetes – This may have to do with full fat providing better satiety. However, other experts say the saturated fat content of our diets is linked to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
As current dietary guidelines urge people to avoid full fat dairy, we believe that skim is the best choice for most children over two years old. From a nutrition standpoint, whole milk and skim milk provide the same nutritional value, except that skim milk has less fat. Read more about the controversy.
Flavored vs. Plain
Schools have been removing flavored milk from their cafeterias over concerns about its added sugar. This has led to reduced milk sales in some schools and more white milk being thrown away, causing kids to miss out on the benefits of milk.
Flavored milk has all of the major nutrients found in unflavored milk. Two studies published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2002 and 2008 found that those who drank milk (flavored or plain) got in more nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, phosphorus and potassium and didn’t consume more sugar or calories than non-milk drinkers.
We believe that flavored milk is a better alternative to sodas and many juices which are higher in sugar and calories. Our chocolate, vanilla and strawberry Sneakz flavors make our organic milkshakes more appealing to kids, which makes it more likely that kids will drink them and enjoy the benefits of organic dairy and vegetable nutrition.