Milk Can't Measure Up to Fruits and Vegetables

Few foods elicit such strong opinions as milk and dairy products. The dairy folks want you to believe that dairy is essential and that your bones will crumble if you don’t drink milk. The anti milk people talk about all the hormones and antibiotic residue in milk and consider it the most disease-promoting of all foods. There are exaggerations and distortions of the available research on both sides.

We can’t look at all the pros and cons of dairy here, but there are some obvious conclusions. The typical American diet that is filled with processed foods and animal products is noticeably deficient in calcium and Vitamin D unless dairy is consumed or supplemented. However, dairy is not the only source of calcium, and, once you are eating a significant amount of calcium-rich plant matter, dairy products lose their status as the main source of calcium.

As you know from the evidence in my books, all animal products, including dairy, should be curtailed significantly, and those calories should be replaced with high-micronutrient, unprocessed plant foods.

When more vegetables are consumed, you get extra calcium and a cornucopia of phytochemicals that are not found in dairy. A secondary issue is that high saturated fat intake promotes heart disease and cancer. Dairy products, such as whole-milk, butter, and cheese are the foods that contribute the most saturated fat to the American diet. Any person seeking excellent health should restrict these foods in his or her diet. Skim-milk and other non-fat dairy products can be used as part of the small amount of allowable animal products consumed weekly. They are not foods that should be consumed liberally, and they should not be seen as health foods because they are not high in micronutrients and phytochemicals.

In addition to the other problems, there is evidence that the daily use of dairy can increase the risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is now the single most common cancer among men in the United States. With the spread of our meat- and dairy-centered diet, it is on the rise in almost every country in the world. A meta-analysis of the best independent studies indicated that milk drinking men seem to have a 70 percent greater chance of developing cancer of the prostate.1 This evidence exists in spite of the multiple studies that show that Vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of prostate cancer. Since milk is fortified with Vitamin D, using it must have a significant negative effect that overwhelms the benefits from the added vitamin.

Overall, milk is not health food. If you enjoy some skim-milk or non-fat yogurt, I recommend you limit it, just as you would limit other animal products. If your diet is healthful, consuming little or no dairy won’t be a problem, as long as you make sure you get adequate Vitamin D from other sources.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

1. Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer: meta-analysis of case-control studies. Nutr Cancer. 2004;48(1):22-27.

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
ASP - September 3, 2009 1:39 AM

A must to read.

Schwabby - September 3, 2009 2:42 PM

My youngest son is lactose intolerant and has refused to drink milk or eat cheese since he was old enough to voice an opinion. Being the more laid back parent I took the route of encouraging him to eat the other foods that had the calcium I thought he needed. He loves Broccoli. He is now 15, healthy than the rest of us who used to eat dairy, and skinnier than the rest of us as well. He has not suffered one bit by not having milk products. He gets a horrible stomach ache. His dad and step mom want to have him tested so that they can get him back on Dairy products. I try to tell them it is not necessary but they have their mindset. I do hope to get them your book Dr. Fuhrman and give that to them to read. Sometimes what you don't say has just as much influence as what you do!
Just wanted to put in my two cents worth.

Saab - June 5, 2011 10:54 AM

My dietitian told me that spinach and broccoli have calcium and vitamin D but not enough as halibut and milk would have, or fortified products. She says that in order to get the right amount of calcium and vitamin D, I would need to eat A LOT of broccoli and spinach, which would be unrealistic.

I thought to myself, "isn't eating A LOT of vegetables a good thing? Then we would get calcium, vitamin D, and a whole lot of other anti-oxidants, and we would get so full from vegetables, that we would have no more room for dessert or other unhealthy food.

I told her that, and she just said, "that's impossible."

Mich - May 5, 2012 6:56 PM

Its interesting that one out of a hundred and more studies are chosen here to show milk is bad. There are just as many on the medical and scientific journal sites that show the benefits of milk for bones and for minerals in populations including childrens developing bones and the aged. I can understand that products kids yoghurts are all rubbish, but i'm not sure if children should be taken off milk if they have no problem with it and have a high fruit and veggie diet as well. We all had milk as children in school and thrived. There were no overweight kids in the 60s. Our bones are strong now. I don't see why milk is this evil thing that must be avoided. The Mongolians drink milk and eat meat, that is their main diet, and they have the lowest rates of breast cancer.
That being said, Dr Joel's book cured me of my arthritis and I still can't believe it. I've had to keep reading my diary entries to remind myself of the pain I was in for nearly a year. I limit milk (I don't eat cheese or yoghurts etc anyway) to just in my tea and coffee which I'm not giving up. This diet and the food pyramid have been adopted in our house and I've lost 8 kilos in six weeks and feel fabulous. I think the milk issue is neither here or there. It's the junk dairy products that I think do the damage and cheeses and so forth.

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