Health red alert on fatty blue-top milk
Sunday, October 24th 2004
Kiwis would be far healthier if they made the easy switch from full-fat to trim milk, reports Emily Watt from Sunday Star Times.
Orange, yellow, blue and green - it's a rainbow of colours in the milk aisle at the supermarket, but most New Zealanders are sticking with fat-filled blue.
Kiwis bought nearly 100 million litres of blue-top milk last year, despite nationwide health messages to cut down on saturated fat. Nutritionists say if that was trim milk, our rates of high cholesterol, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease would improve dramatically.
A litre of blue-top milk contains 24g of saturated fat, equivalent to four nougat-filled chocolate bars.
The nation's milk-drinking habits need to change, says Otago University professor of nutrition Jim Mann. "That's a significant way people could cut down on saturated fat intake. It's potentially very important. And it's an easy thing to do."
Blue-top dominates 56% of supermarket sales, but 14.5% of last year's sales were trim and a further 12.6% was milk enriched with supplements.
Health-conscious milk drinkers can now choose added Omega 3, Vitamin E or vitamins A and D, boosted calcium or protein, low cholesterol or low carbohydrates.
Mann was sceptical about the benefits of enriched milks and said a balanced diet was the only proven way to improve human health.
"In light of current knowledge, I don't think there's any evidence that supplemented products are particularly beneficial," he said.
But enriched milks are increasingly popular and sales have risen by more than 60% over the past three years. More than 22 million litres were sold in supermarkets last year, according to Aztec figures.
The glut of choice means fridge doors are often jammed with assorted milks to suit individual tastes. Wellingtonian Kevin List says his fridge always has at least three cartons.
His girlfriend likes Calci-trim, but he said: "I personally don't rate it very highly - it tastes a bit weak."
List chooses his milk based on taste rather than health, and he favours a full-bodied milk, such as blue-top or Sun Latte.
But as a compromise, he also buys the Anchor Heartwise, "the king of the low-fat milks", which he says is full of flavour, but which alleviates his girlfriend's health concerns.
Dietician Amber Strong said men were usually motivated by taste when choosing what milk to drink.
Many also viewed trim milk as feminine and continued to drink blue-top despite the risks to their cholesterol levels from the saturated fat.
She said children should be encouraged to drink milk to help bone growth. While infants benefited from the fat in blue-top milk, from the age of two they could start to drink trim or light blue.
Sourced from Sunday, October 24th 2004
Footnote from Ideal Health:
The following products are all useful sources of calcium and will assist to increase bone density and mineral levels.
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