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Milk, the life-sustaining fluid produced by all mammals, has nourished humanity for more than 7,000 years. Now, milk is attracting the attention of scientists and nutritionists. They have discovered that while milk isn't a magic weight-loss food, and while temperature doesn't make much of a difference, there are ways milk can help you win the battle of the bulge.
Cold, fresh milk is a relatively new phenomenon in human diet. Though archeological finds date milk consumption as early as 5000 BC, people used almost all milk to make yogurt, cheese, or butter. It was only in the 1800s that railroads made fresh milk available to the general population, according to Harold McGee's book “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.”
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To get the greatest possible benefit, choose skim or low-fat milk, not whole milk. According to the Fat Secret food and nutrition information database, one cup of whole milk has 146 calories and 7.9 g of fat. A cup of 1 percent fat milk has 102 calories and 2.3 g of fat. Skim milk, sometimes erroneously marked as fat-free milk, has 86 calories and .44 g of fat. Milk is a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D.
Some people believe the body burns several calories in the process of warming cold milk and other cold fluids you drink to body temperature. Unfortunately, even if you were to put ice in your milk, it doesn't do much. In a report on the Chow website, Dr. Roger Clemens, doctor of public health in nutrition and biological chemistry at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, crunched the numbers. Clemens found that that the body burns about eight calories – fewer calories than are in a sick of sugar-free gum – to warm a cup of ice water to body temperature. That's not enough to counteract the calories in a glass of milk, though you should still keep your milk cold, so it doesn't go bad.
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Even though drinking cold milk does not force your body to burn lots of calories, the calcium in milk can help. According to a recent EurekAlert, Researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev studied 300 overweight men and women for two years. The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, were that people who had the highest consumption of dairy-based calcium also lost the most weight.
Nothing can derail a diet like an adverse food reaction, and not everyone can digest milk. People who are lactose intolerant cannot properly digest milk, and experience painful bloating and gas when they consume dairy products, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Health. Milk is one of the top eight allergenic foods, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If you have any reason to believe you might be lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, speak to your healthcare provider.
- “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.” Harold McGee. 2004
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Lactose Intolerance
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food Allergies: What you Need to Know
Melanie Greenwood has been a freelance writer since 2010. Her work has appeared in "The Denver Post" as well as various online publications. She resides in northern Colorado and she works helping to care for elderly and at-risk individuals. Greenwood holds a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral leadership from Bethany University in California.
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