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Have you ever walked down the dairy aisle at the market and wondered which milk is best for you and your family?  Just in time for National Dairy Month this June, the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the creator of GOT MILK?, and Dairy Council of California will work together to educate consumers on the various milk options available today and how their choices could make a difference in their overall health.

"Dairy milk has been a part of the American lifestyle for centuries, but families still have many questions about this beverage," says Ashley Rosales, Registered Dietitian for Dairy Council of California. "This educational outreach hopes to take a closer look at the dairy case so that families can feel good about the milk they are drinking."

Rosales, along with other registered dietitians from Dairy Council of California, will answer consumers' frequently asked questions about milk, from the differences between dairy and imitation milks to the healthfulness of flavored milks to lactose intolerance. To "Decode the Dairy Aisle," Dairy Council of California is even launching a brochure titled "Milk! Secrets, Stories & Facts of America's Favorite Natural Beverage" that can be found on gotmilk.com/news to address some of these very topics.   

Q: Are all milks created equal?

It's always best to consume food and beverages closest to their natural state. Almonds, rice and soybeans are great foods to eat, but processing them and substituting them for foods from another food group does not help consumers get all the nutrients needed for a balanced diet. A comparison of nutrient facts for whole almonds, soybeans and rice reveals that they are much more nutrient-rich in their whole, not liquid, forms. When it comes to milk there's nothing more natural, wholesome and nutrient-rich than good old-fashioned dairy milk. At 25 cents per glass, milk is the healthy, affordable choice for families.

Q: Who should drink whole milk vs. low-fat (one percent, two percent) and fat-free milk?

Thankfully, milk is offered in a variety of options to support the health of people based on their individual needs.  Whole milk is recommended for toddlers between one and two years old because they need fats in their diets for nerve and brain development. Beyond age two, it really depends on the individual's needs and preferences. For people looking to cut calories, choose low-fat or fat-free milk.  Whole, low-fat or fat-free, all dairy milk has the same amount of calcium and contains nine essential nutrients for strong bones, muscles, hair, teeth and nails.  For adults, drinking the recommended three servings of milk a day can lower the risk of osteoporosis and high blood pressure and ward against diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Q: Is chocolate milk an ideal beverage for kids to drink?

Flavored milk offers a practical way of ensuring that kids get all of the nutrients they need with just a bit of added sugar.  Whether plain or flavored, milk contains nine nutrients necessary for optimal growth and development. In addition, studies show that chocolate milk competes effectively with commercial sports drinks when taken 30 minutes post-workout.  Its combination of calcium, protein and carbohydrates helps replenish the muscles, which can take a beating during exercise. 

Q: Can consumers drink milk if they are lactose intolerant?

Health professionals recommend that people visit their doctor first to determine the cause of symptoms.  Even people with lactose intolerance can typically enjoy milk and milk products in their diets and benefit from the important nutrients they provide. Lactose-free milk, or LACTAID, is widely available.  A clinical study (as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine) found that drinking small amounts of milk — or exposing the body to a little lactose daily — can actually prevent symptoms. 

Registered Dietitians from Dairy Council of California will be traveling to various cities in the Golden State to interview on television and radio, as well as in print and online.  This outreach coincides with the newly launched GOT MILK? advertising campaign, the "Science of Imitation Milk," which hopes to educate consumers about the authenticity and simplicity of dairy milk in contrast to the myriad ingredients that can be found in imitation milks.                 

"The synergistic efforts of Dairy Council of California and GOT MILK? aim to clarify the confusion, pre-conceived notions and questions consumers have about milk," says Steve James, executive director of the CMPB. "Dairy milk has been an irreplaceable part of our diets for centuries, and we hope to remind consumers about the multitude of health benefits it offers families."

For more information on the GOT MILK? campaign and Dairy Council of California's new "Milk!" brochure," visit gotmilk.com/news.