6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, the health benefits of real dairy

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(ABC 6 News) – Have you checked out the dairy section of your supermarket lately? The choices go way beyond skim, 2%, and whole milk.

Now ‘cow’ shares the shelf with almond oat, rice, pea, coconut, cashew, and sesame milk, and we might be missing a few!

Some people prefer the taste, and others think plant milk is healthier, but as Consumer Reports explains, it’s essential not to overlook the health benefits of real dairy.

Milk was once a staple of the American diet, and the dairy industry encouraged us to sip it at every meal. But is dairy for everyone?

“There are pros and cons to having dairy in your diet,” says Consumer Reports’ Trisha Calvo. “Real dairy has a lot going for it because it’s high in calcium, protein, and potassium. But it’s also high in saturated fat and some people can’t tolerate it.”

Not all fats are created equal. Increasingly, studies have found that eating moderate amounts of full-fat dairy doesn’t raise your risk of heart disease or stroke, and may be beneficial.

Milk is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. It can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type -2 diabetes.

But if cow’s milk just isn’t your thing…yogurt is a great pick because it’s packed with healthy probiotic bacteria.

“Plain yogurt is best, with a little fruit, honey, or maple syrup for sweetness. But be wary of flavored yogurts, which can be high in added sugars, and that can offset the health benefits,” says Calvo.

CR’s nutrition experts say to choose a yogurt with 6 grams or fewer added sugars. “A daily serving of yogurt and one of cheese is enough for general health,” says Calvo. “And some cheeses, such as cheddar and mozzarella, have probiotics, too.”

So consider the benefit before putting dairy out to pasture.

CR adds that if you want to enjoy plant milk, watch for the “original” or “plain” in their name. These versions often contain added sugars, as do flavored plant kinds of milk, so look for “unsweetened” on the label.