New Year’s resolutions always seem a little bit cheesy. By February, many people are trying to figure out how to cancel that gym membership or turn their treadmill into a coat rack. However, if you’re going to make one decision this year that sticks—resolve to remove cheese from your diet.
Let’s be honest—some folks think they just can’t give up cheese. However, once you realize just how bad something is for you, it suddenly doesn’t seem so necessary! Every year millions of Americans resolve to quit smoking or to cut back on their drinking–and the health reward is huge. The same goes for cheese. Just as giving up smoking can significantly decrease the risk of lung cancer, giving up cheese can lower the risk of prostate and breast cancers.
Cheese is the number one source of saturated fat in the American diet. It’s also linked with the number one killer: heart disease. The high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat in cheese and other dairy products can increase atherosclerosis, leading to cardiovascular problems. Reducing cheese intake or replacing it with more healthful options—like hummus—can reduce your risk.
Trying to slim down before summer? You should know that 70 percent of the calories in cheese come from fat. Once you take away the cheese, unhealthful foods suddenly become much better for you! One example is pizza. Considered one of the worst diet foods, pizza becomes thin bread topped with pureed tomatoes and veggies when you remove the greasy cheese. You can also lower the fat and calories in burritos, salads, sandwiches, or even soup by making this one simple change.
Here are some cheese-free versions of popular recipes to get you started:
South of the Border Pizza
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
And here’s a three-step program the Physicians Committee put together on Breaking the Cheese Addiction:
Step One: The Reality Check
Step Two: Making New Friends
Step Three: Cleansing the Palate
Resolve to make 2015 your healthiest year yet!
Turns out that all those years of milk and cookies haven’t been doing Santa any favors. This year, he’s finally breaking his silence and letting the world know that he is lactose intolerant.
Up to 65 percent of people in the world are unable to digest lactose, with that number rising to 90 percent within certain ethnic groups. Data show that approximately 79 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant. So are 75 percent of African Americans and more than 50 percent of Hispanics. Asians have a 90 percent statistic of lactose intolerance. Some say that, prior to moving to the North Pole, Santa Claus used to be Saint Nicholas, a Greek bishop. Since there is a lactose intolerance rate of 75 percent among people of Greek descent, it’s no surprise that Santa wants to ditch the dairy.
Consuming dairy products can actually have worse consequences than ending up on Santa’s naughty list. Just two and a half servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese per day can increase the risk of prostate cancer by 34 percent. Mrs. Claus would also benefit from switching to plant milk, since dairy milk consumption has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, with dairy products contributing up to 70 percent of the estrogen intake in the Western diet. A 2012 study debunked the idea of milk building strong bones. Researchers found that active girls who consumed the most dairy double their risk of bone fracture than girls who consumed less dairy. The study linked good bone health with vitamin D consumption—a nutrient not naturally found in dairy products.
The saturated fat and cholesterol in dairy also contribute to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Trying to lower fat intake by switching to skim adds a new complication—sugar. One cup of skim milk has just about as much sugar as five Hershey’s Kisses.
Instead of leaving Santa a glass of dairy milk, why not try an energizing green smoothie? Not only is the color more seasonally appropriate, a green smoothie is packed with fiber and antioxidants to keep Santa feeling full between rooftops.
Science Contradicts Milk Marketing
This week, another study has illustrated that milk actually has a negative effect on bone health. Researchers in Sweden published findings in the British Medical Journal showing that women who drink milk have a higher incidence of bone fractures—and an increased risk of mortality from heart disease and cancer.
According to the study, women who consume three or more glasses of milk per day have a 60 percent increased risk of developing a hip fracture and a 93 percent increased risk of death. And each glass of milk increases mortality risk by 15 percent.
However, this news should not come as a shock to anyone outside of the dairy industry’s advertising department. A 2005 review in Pediatrics showed that milk has no effect on preventing stress fractures in girls. In fact, the research linked higher milk consumption with higher fracture risk.
For strong, healthy bones, it’s important to have enough calcium and vitamin D. However, animal products tend to leech calcium from bones, yet plant foods do not have this effect. One cup of collards has 268 mg of calcium. Spinach has 245 mg in a single cup, while a cup of soybeans has 261 mg. When you take fortified orange juice and fortified tofu into account, it’s easy to obtain more than the daily calcium recommendation of 1,000 mg.
Regardless of what milk marketers would have you believe, vitamin D is not naturally occurring in dairy milk. Last week, we examined a recent Canadian study suggesting that children who consumed dairy milk had higher levels of vitamin D. After reviewing the research, we learned that the dairy milk was fortified—while the plant milks were not. Any fortified non-dairy beverage can provide the necessary nutrients, without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in milk.
The science is there: milk does a body bad. Let’s wipe off the milk mustaches and remove milk from the school lunch line. To learn how you can help get milk out of schools, visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org.