Milk to the Rescue

By Charlyn Fargo

August 1, 2014 6 min read

A new study finds women who drink more milk have healthier knees. The study found that milk may help keep the joints connecting bones working right as we age. In the study, conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University, found that in more than 2,000 patients with knee osteoarthritis, those with greater milk consumption had reduced arthritis progression. The milk was either fat-free or low-fat milk.

"Our results suggest that frequent milk consumption may be associated with reduced osteoarthritis progression in women," said researchers.

The study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, followed 2,148 men and women with knee osteoarthritis. Researchers measured the narrowing space between bones in the knee joint with X-rays annually for four years. In women, they found a significant relationship between greater milk consumption at the start of the study and subsequent reduced narrowing in joint space width, indicating slower progression of osteoarthritis.

Women who averaged seven glasses of milk or more per week experienced only about two-thirds the narrowing of non-milk drinkers. However, no association was found in men. In addition, no benefit was seen for other dairy products. Cheese was actually linked to increased progression, possibly because of its high fat content, researchers said.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends 3 cups of calcium-rich dairy products per day. Mariam Nelson, author of Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis, recommends daily consumption of: 8 cups water or fluids, 3 servings of fruit, 3 servings of vegetables, 4-9 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta (at least half from whole grains), 1 serving of fish, soy, nuts and legumes, 2-3 servings of reduced-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, no more than 2 servings of meat, poultry and eggs, oils rich in omega-3s with other fats and oils used sparingly, and to limit sweets.

Information courtesy of Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2014.

Q and A

Q: How does almond milk compare nutritionally to soy milk and cow's milk?

A: For people avoiding cow's milk due to allergies, lactose intolerance or other reasons, almond milk and soy milk are two of the most popular choices. Their popularity has led to many different options within each category, so check labels since nutritional content varies substantially. The calcium-fortified versions of soy and almond milk provide calcium amounts similar to cow's milk (and some may provide fortification beyond the 30 percent of Daily Value found in cow's milk). Beyond that, they are quite different nutritionally.

For protein, soy milk is closer to cow's milk, providing 6 grams (g) in an 8-ounce glass compared to the 8 grams in cow's milk. Almonds themselves are packed with protein, but almond milk is not, supplying only 1 gram per 8-ounce glass (less than you get in a slice of bread). Calorie content varies substantially. Unsweetened soy milk in regular or "lite" form is similar in calories to either 1 percent (low-fat) or skim (nonfat) cow's milk (around 70-100 calories per 8-ounce glass). Unsweetened almond milk contains less than half the calories of soymilk, but sweetened versions (including vanilla) add from 2 to 5 1/2 teaspoons of sugar per cup, adding an additional 30-90 calories

Cow's milk is highest in potassium, which helps control blood pressure, followed by soymilk; almond milk is much lower. On the other hand, almond milk is lower in sodium and supplies half of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E. For vegans and others who have trouble getting the heart-healthy omega-3 fats, one version of soymilk comes with added DHA, one type of omega-3 fat. Consider what nutrients you are counting on your milk choice to provide, and choose accordingly. Read labels among the specific choices to find what best meets your needs.

Information courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.


For those of us who plant zucchini, abundance is common. Here's a recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread, from Cooking Light magazine, that offers a way to include a vegetable in a sweet.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 cup applesauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups finely shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended. Stir in applesauce. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating just until moist. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack, and remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices per loaf.

Per serving: 161 calories, 2.9 g protein, 27.3 g carbohydrate, 5.1 g fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 1.4 g fiber, 145 mg sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Nutrition Rd. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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