Got milk? On the surface of it, there's nothing healtier than a glass of milk - no preservatives, no artificial colors, no high-fructose corn syrup - just good ol' nutritious milk ... Or is it?
... almost 8,000 years after nomadic herders realized they could tug at the udders of slow-moving livestock, we still aren't sure how much of the stuff we should be drinking. The USDA recommends three cups of dairy a day for all adults, but the science behind milk hasn't been settled. "This is one of the most complicated and interesting areas of nutrition," says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, "and we don't have all of the answers."
Many high-profile nutritionists — often working with large research grants from the dairy industry — say that milk in great quantities is an essential part of the daily diet that can help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. "Anything less than three glasses a day, and you won't get all of the nutrients that you need," says Connie Weaver, head of food and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Most of Weaver's funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, but she's also supported by the National Dairy Council.
On the other side, groups promoting animal rights and veganism — including PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — say that cow's milk is a nutritional nightmare that doesn't belong in the human diet. "It's gross," says Dr. Neil Barnard, author and founder of the PCRM. "Milk is nutritionally perfect for one purpose: feeding a calf," he says. "The idea that we should be drinking milk from a cow is just bizarre."
Willett, one of the world's most prominent nutrition experts, doesn't belong to either camp. From his viewpoint, one or two cups of milk each day is a safe, reasonable and nutritious goal. "But beyond that," he says, "the benefits are unclear, and there may be some risk."
Chris Woolston did a special report for the Los Angeles Times: Link