This argument has been heard and read about a thousand times. Many experts have voiced their opinions and there are staunch believers on either side. So, today let’s look at this question from a completely different angle. As in why do we need to choose sides at all? Is it necessary to choose one or the other? Can’t we all live happily in the middle ground?
Orange juice is a fruit beverage and though fortified with calcium cannot alone compensate for all the nutrients supplied by dairy. Also, two things to consider before vouching by your bottle of orange juice are the processing it has gone through and its sugar content.
Soy milk also is surrounded by its own controversy because of the high levels of estrogen-like compound found in it (which is linked to several side effects, disorders and diseases when consumed in excess).
Cow’s milk is accepted by most but looked down upon by the Vegan population. The milk sugar, lactose has given grief to many; some are even pointing fingers at the link between galactose (a sugar released in the process of digesting lactose) and ovarian cancer.
Nevertheless, (unless you are allergic to lactose) I believe that we need some dairy in our diet for it is a reliable healthy source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D. In my opinion it will be better if we limit our dairy food consumption to 1- 2 servings /day, and then compensate for any lack of calcium/protein in our diets with orange juice, soy foods and /or dark green leafy vegetables. Including an array of foods, especially vegetables and legumes all known to have their benefits (beyond providing calcium), and not depending on just one kind of food is the key. This will ensure that we stay away from the feared side effects usually followed by excess consumption of a single kind of food. And so, we go back to the age old saying ‘eat a rainbow (of foods) everyday’!!
Of course, when talking about calcium requirements and its absorption in our body we cannot forget to mention the importance of exercise, especially the weight bearing kind and Vitamin D (through diet, supplements and/or sun exposure or better still, an appropriate mix of all!). And let me go out on a limb here and say that, unless we take care of all our nutrition needs equally, mindfully paying attention to just one angle will never be helpful!
Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be Safe!
Contributed by inChef’s in-house Nutritionist Chaitali Rede