Why I Drink Milk

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I have a pretty strong family history of heart disease, so I’m always seeking out new ways to make my diet heart-healthy. I’ve always been a big dairy fan — the steamed milk pictured here is one of my favorite ways to drink milk! And now a new study shows how this food group may be able to help keep our tickers healthy.

Researchers looked at the dairy intake of more than 37,000 middle- to older-age Chinese adults who didn't have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or cancer, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. The findings: Regular intake of dairy, especially milk, was connected with a lower risk of high blood pressure. People who drank milk daily had about an 80 percent lower risk of hypertension, versus the non-milk drinkers. High blood pressure may cause damage to your circulatory system that may lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other health problems.

Milk offers many important nutrients, such as filling protein, bone-building calcium, and blood-pressure-helping potassium. Plus, most milk is fortified with vitamin D, a nutrient of concern to the general U.S. population. Vitamin D helps promote calcium absorption to help keep your bones strong — and research suggests it may play a role in better heart health. When you’re watching your weight, milk is an especially great addition to your diet because it provides a lot of nutrients for a smallish amount of calories.

When shopping for milk, choose either a 1% milk (4 SmartPoints® value per cup) or nonfat milk (3 SmartPoints value per cup). On the Weight Watchers food plan, it’s best to choose a milk with lower saturated fat. A higher saturated fat content means a higher SmartPoints value, as well as a potential increase in cholesterol in your blood levels, connected with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes with milk:

Malted Milk Mudslide Shooters: 3 SmartPoints value per 4 ounces chocolate shake and ½ teaspoon syrup
Banana Bread Overnight Oats: 7 SmartPoints value per 2/3 cup
Blueberry Cheesecake Pops: 2 SmartPoints value per popsicle

Do you drink milk? What are your favorite ways to enjoy it? Tell me on Connect @amy_gorin!

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Amy Gorin is a freelance writer and registered dietitian nutritionist in New Jersey. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest