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Dairy: Healthy or Unhealthy?

By Sara Butler

Most people know that dairy is an excellent source of calcium -- a mineral your body needs to work at its very best. It's also a good source of Vitamin D and protein, two more essential nutrients. But not everyone is into dairy since they see it as a source of saturated fat and as an inflammatory substance that wreaks havoc on your body. Which is right? Here are a few of the benefits and the risks of dairy to help you decide if it's a valuable part of your diet or if you need to go in search of other sources of the vitamins and minerals dairy provides.

The Benefits of Dairy

One thing that dairy has going for it is that it's incredibly nutrient-dense. In fact, milk has more phosphorus, calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and magnesium per calorie than about any other type of food. Dairy also happens to provide important fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A that keep your muscles, including your heart, and your bones healthy. Throw in the fact that it's also the best non-meat source of Vitamin B12, something needed for the proper function of your central nervous system, and you can see why so many people are big fans of dairy. Well that and the fact that it's also readily available and affordable.

The Risks of Dairy

Even with all the aforementioned benefits of dairy, there are still a few things that should be on your radar about it. First of all, dairy isn't for everyone. Some people are allergic to dairy or can't tolerate it well when they do eat it. Many people lack the ability to properly digest the sugars in milk, something called lactose intolerance. If you're one of them, then you know that dairy is probably not a good choice for you.

Healthy Alternatives

If you find that you can't or shouldn't have dairy, then there are plenty of alternatives out there. You've likely seen oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, and even cashew milk readily available at your local store. These can be a good alternative to dairy as long as you realize that these alternatives don't have as much, or in some cases any, of the Vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium you need. You must also remember to read the label of any dairy alternative since they can also be full of preservatives, artificial thickeners, and added sugars.

Dairy can be a part of a healthy and balanced diet. It's also a great source of calcium and protein. If you can tolerate it, then it deserves a place in your diet.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Houston, Tex.

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