Breakfast is in trouble. From McDonald’s Egg McMuffin to Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco, breakfast trends continue to veer into unhealthy territory and skyrocket in fat and cholesterol. And now, even one of the most healthful breakfast options – oatmeal – is at risk. Starting in October, the Quaker Oats man will be sporting a milk mustache.
MilkPEP, the milk promotion program sponsored by the dairy industry, has splashed its marketing campaign across the iconic Quaker Oats logo. Marketing milk is a disservice to Quaker’s customers who may not know that milk has zero health benefits. In fact, milk is associated with many health risks. In the American diet, dairy products are some of the top sources of saturated fat and cholesterol – major contributors to heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer. More than one glass of milk per day can increase the risk of breast cancer by 73 percent, and two and a half servings of dairy products can raise prostate cancer risk by 34 percent. Skim milk is not a better option – it still holds many of the dangers as whole milk, including cholesterol and sugar. Just one cup of skim milk has more sugar than a serving of Lucky Charms!
Additionally, 65 percent of people are lactose intolerant and experience abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and other symptoms of gastrointestinal upset roughly 30 minutes after drinking milk. Certain populations are more likely to be lactose intolerant than others. Data show that approximately 90 percent of Asians, 75 percent of African-Americans, more than 50 percent of Hispanics, and 79 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant.
Fortunately, oatmeal can be easily prepared with water or nondairy milk to create a healthful breakfast. Half a cup of Quaker old-fashioned oats has 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which will help you feel full until lunchtime. Oatmeal also helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Adding heart-healthy and cholesterol-free options – like fruit or plant-based milks – will help you reap the benefits of oatmeal, rather than wash them away.
By wiping off his milk mustache—or making it a plant-milk mustache—the Quaker mascot has the opportunity to help save breakfast. Customers who want to let Quaker know that they love their oats dairy free can sign this petition. Let’s all work together to keep breakfast healthful for everyone!
Last week, CVS Caremark changed its name to CVS Health and pulled all tobacco products from its shelves. Way to go, CVS. That’s a great move. And if CVS really wants to lead the charge toward better health care, there is an even more important step: It needs to tackle the grocery aisle next.
In my local CVS—just steps away from the pharmacy—the shelves and refrigerators are stocked with milk, butter, beef jerky, ice cream, frozen pepperoni pizza, and other unhealthful foods.
Beef jerky and the milk refrigerator are adjacent to the pharmacy.
Cheese and pizza are the top two source of saturated fat in the American diet—with other meat and dairy products rounding out the top 10. These high-fat foods not only contribute to our obesity rates, but also our country’s leading cause of death: heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease alone kills more Americans annually than all forms of cancer combined.
With 7,000 locations across the country, there is a huge opportunity for CVS to improve national health standards. Instead of selling artery-clogging meat and dairy products, it should offer heart-healthy grab-and-go snacks, like clementines, bananas, and hummus. Leading by example and ceasing the sale of dairy and meat products can turn CVS into CardioVascularSaviors.
The pharmacy is just to the left of these cases of ice cream and frozen pizza
Want to see nutrition resources at CVS Health? Tweet a link to our Nutrition Rainbow to @CVS! You can also find your local CVS on Yelp and leave a review, letting the store know that you admire the progress, but as long as it’s offering health care along with unhealthful foods, there’s incongruity in its message.
A recent report from the Environmental Working Group highlights the top sugar-laden cereals. Honey Smacks dominated the list with 15 grams of sugar per serving. While it’s fashionable these days to attack sugary cereals, sugar is hardly the most dangerous thing in your breakfast bowl. That dubious distinction goes to the milk.
For starters, milk itself is high in sugar. While the top five cereals on EWG’s list all had between 14 and 15 grams of sugar per serving, milk was nearly as high with 12 grams of sugar in a cup of skim milk. One cup of chocolate milk has almost 24 grams of sugar.
What is considerably more worrisome is the fact that milk is linked with cancer—particularly prostate cancer. In international comparisons and in several prospective studies, men consuming the most milk had a substantially higher risk of prostate cancer, apparently due to milk’s effects on male hormones.
You don’t need milk. Studies show that milk does not actually help build strong bones, and the protein in milk can easily be obtained from other sources. One cup of oatmeal has 5.5 grams of protein—as well as 4 grams of fiber. Quinoa also makes an excellent breakfast, and one cup of quinoa contains has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Making a few servings of quinoa or a pot of oatmeal, and then sticking them in the refrigerator, makes them as easy as cold cereal on a frenzied morning.
And you can sweeten them both with fruit and a little bit of agave if you’re so inclined. Ditch the milk, and we’ll all be better off in the long run.