Dairy products, particularly, milk, come in varying levels of fat content (whole, 2%, skim, etc). The reduced fat options are healthier from the perspective that you're consuming less saturated fat. But a recent study has shown that the process of removing fat from milk creates by-products that may cause cancer. Also, extreme forms of treatment such as ultra-pasteurization can produce carcinogens. Consequently, normal pasteurized whole milk is best. If fat intake is a concern, mixing whole milk with some water is a great way to reduce the fat content while avoiding carcinogenic by-products.
Yet another aspect to consider is the raising practices of the cows producing the milk. Conventionally raised cows have an alarmingly high level of pesticides in their milk, rivaling some of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. Using organic milk, cheese, and other dairy products is strongly recommended.
There is also a variety of dairy alternatives such as coconut, soy, almond, hemp, and rice milk. My personal preference out of these 3 is almond milk. Non-GMO soy has some health benefits. However, soy is also in many processed foods and too much of it can produce undesirable effects in both men and women due to its estrogen-like properties.
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Not all organic dairy is created equal! A watchdog organization called The Cornucopia Institute did an analysis on the integrity of milk producers to expose those potentially violating organic standards. The full report is available at www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html. Find out here how your organic milk rates.
Source: Darko, G.; Acquaah, S.O., (2007). Levels of organochlorine pesticides residues in dairy products in Kumasi, Ghana. Chemosphere, 71 (2), 294-298.
Source: Park, Song-Yi. Calcium, vitamin D, and dairy product intake and prostate cancer risk: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. Dec. 1, 2007; 166(11):1259-69.