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A recent study found that 41 per cent of Irish women and 30 per cent of Irish men have made the conscious decision to limit their dairy consumption.

It's thought that the growing number of bloggers and influencers promoting plant-based diets has led to the decreased intake, with one in ten people admitting they now believe cow's milk is unhealthy.

Instead, many consumers are now looking to non-dairy alternatives such as soy or almond, but with tonnes of conflicting reports about the nutritional benefits of each, it can be difficult to choose that product that is right for us.

In an attempt to settle the dairy vs non-dairy debate once and for all, we've done some research and compared the health benefits of cow's milk and its most popular alternatives.

Full-Fat Cow's Milk

Pros: As well as being a great source of protein, full-fat cow's milk is rich in minerals and vitamins, essential for helping your body function properly. In fact, just one glass contains five per cent of your recommended intake of vitamins and up to 28 per cent of your daily calcium requirement.

Cons: Cow's milk is high in saturated fat, which, when consumed in excess amounts, increase levels of 'bad' cholesterol.

Semi Skimmed Cow's Milk

Pros: Semi skimmed cow's milk provides much the same nutrients as its full-fat counterpart, however it's lower calorie count and added protein makes it ideal for weight loss. 

Cons: As a means of compensating for the reduced fat content, extra sugar is sometimes added to make it taste better. However, it's worth reading the label before you make your choice as the same can't be said for every brand.

Soy Milk

Pros: Cholesterol, saturated and trans fats are all naturally absent from soy milk, making it a good choice when it comes to heart health. What's more, research  published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), suggests childhood consumption of soy reduces the risk of bone degradation later in life.

Cons: Some studies claims soy can mimic the female hormone estrogen, thus leading to an increased risk of breast cancer. Other research claims the ingredient could have a possible negative impact on men's fertility.

Almond Milk

Pros: Almonds are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, fibre, magnesium and iron. They also contain flavonoids, which help to lower levels of 'bad' cholesterol and maintain heart health. 

Cons: Some argue that almond milk is not a healthy alternative to dairy as it does not contain as much protein or calcium. However, it's worth nothing that some varieties are now fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Coconut Milk

Pros: Coconut milk is an excellent source medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) – a type of fatty acid that is sent directly to the liver, and then utilised as energy. It also boasts a number of antibacterial and anti-fungal elements to boost your immune system.

Cons: Coconut milk contains specific carbohydrates that may cause stomach upset, meaning people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) should consider eliminating it from their diets.

Rice Milk

Pros: As well as being the most hypoallergenic of all milk products, rice milk also contains low amounts of saturated fat. Its balanced nutritional value makes it the perfect alternative for those who can not tolerate other milks, dairy or other.

Cons: Unlike the dairy option, rice milk lacks both protein (0.67 grams per eight-ounce serving) and calcium (283 mg per eight-ounce serving). However, much of the ready-made rice milk we see on supermarket shelves has been fortified to include 25 to 30 per cent calcium.



So, you might want to re-think your skinny coffee order, because new research suggests that full-fat milk is not the artery-clogging devil liquid we were once led to believe it was. 

In fact, the study conducted at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that full-fat milk can actually promote good heart health.

The team of researchers discovered that non-skimmed dairy could boost levels of 'good' High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Their report stated: “Dietary guidelines have for decades recommended choosing low-fat dairy products due to the high content of saturated fat in dairy known to increase blood concentration of LDL cholesterol .

“But studies show no association between overall dairy intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and even point to an inverse association with type 2 diabetes.”

The finding directly contradict decades of dietary advice, with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk often being hailed a healthier alternative to its full-fat counterpart.

“Our findings suggest whole milk might be considered a part of a healthy diet among the healthy population,” the study concluded.

What's more, in 2016, the same team found eating low-fat cheese did not reduce cholesterol, cut blood pressure or help to trim the waistline.

RIP to all the pizzas and chocolate milkshakes we've refused over the years – it was all in vain. 


There are a lot of common food and nutrition myths that frequently make the headlines – and many of us believe them. 

In some cases the facts are just wrong and for others, they may not be as straight forward as you once thought. 

Healthista spoke to nutritionist Rob Hobson to separate the science from the hype and figure out what is fact and what is fiction:

1. High cholesterol foods (like eggs) can raise blood pressure

Previous advice to cut down on your egg intake has since been changed as we now know foods naturally high in cholesterol have very little impact on our blood levels. 

Eggs are super nutritious and have been shown to aid in weight-loss. However, those with diabetes should limit high cholesterol food intake to three times a week. 


2. All carbs make you fat

Yes and no. Nutritionally, there is nothing fattening about complex carbs with a low GI, such as oats or wholegrain pasta, which contain four calories per handful. 

When eaten in sensible portion sizes, these foods are a good source of nutrients such as fibre and vitamin B. However, what you choose to eat with these carbohydrates will only add to your calorie count and an excess of any food will lead to weight gain.


3. Saturated fat is bad for you

Fats are probably the most complicated of nutrients. All health advice points towards cutting down our saturated fat intake to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

However, new research suggests that saturated fat may not be as strongly linked to heart disease as previously thought. 


4. Eating after 7pm will make you gain weight

OK, first of all, your body doesn't just decide to turn food you eat after 7pm into fat. And secondly, although your metabolism may by slower when you sleep, it still continues to digest food in your gut. 

The amount of fat you have is determined by the amount of calories you consume during the day and how active you are. 


5. A raw food diet is better for you

Raw foods are highly nutritious and a great addition to your diet but some reasons given about the benefit of a raw food diet don't quite add up. 

The are several antioxidants made more available in cooked food such as lycopene (found in red veggies) and beta-carotene (found in orange and dark green veg). 

However, raw food is a great source of enzymes, and we can't function without them. 


6. You need dairy in your diet for calcium

Most people know the importance of including calcium-rich foods in their diet for healthy bones, but you don't soley have to rely on dairy products. 

While milk and cheese provide a readily available source of calcium, other foods rich in this mineral include dark green vegetables, almonds, tofu and ground spices.


7. Eating small portions regularly will help you lose weight

While it’s true that your metabolism increases slightly as you eat, it's not enough to cause any significant weight loss. The only way to actively boost your metabolism is with regular exercise and healthy eating.


8. Bread causes bloating

Putting gluten-sensitivity and coeliac disease aside, some people are sensitive to wheat, which may cause bloating. However, sensitivity is not that common and wheat allergy is rare.

So if you're bloated it may be due to another reason such as IBS, skipping meals, a lack of good bacteria in the gut and foods rich in fermentable carbohydrates (like onions).

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