By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
February 3, 2017
- Never top off your coffee, tea or fruit with this
- Dairy robs foods and beverages of their antioxidant content
- There’s a better kind of milk for your coffee and tea
A little milk in your coffee or tea… a cup of hot cocoa topped with whipped cream… strawberries and yogurt… blueberries and cream.
Some things just seem to go together. Or not.
While these food combinations are a treat for your taste buds, adding dairy products to these otherwise healthy foods destroys their antioxidant benefit.
That’s right. Dairy wipes out your body’s ability to absorb all of the healthy anthocyanins, catechins, ellagitannins and other powerhouse antioxidants in these foods.
The reason is pretty simple, and it’s something I’ve talked about frequently in the past:
Cow’s milk is not intended for humans. It’s intended for baby cows.
You see, every mammal’s milk is exclusive to its own species. Specifically, cow’s milk contains a large amount of a protein called casein. And the human body doesn’t have the enzyme needed to digest this protein.
Well, guess what happens when you combine dairy products made from a cow with your antioxidant-rich food?
The casein binds itself to the antioxidants, which prevents your body from absorbing them.
How Dairy Robs Foods and Beverages of their Antioxidant Content
Many of the health benefits of green tea are attributed to its high catechin content. These compounds increase the amount of nitric oxide in your blood vessels. This, in turn, relaxes your arteries and lowers blood pressure.
The catechins in green tea are also associated with weight loss and a reduction of body fat.
But guess what?
When you add dairy to your green tea, it blunts all of the antioxidant activity responsible for these health benefits. As a result the weight loss and heart healthy benefits of the tea will be lost.
And what about blueberries and cream?
Well, blueberries contain anthocyanins. These compounds help reduce plaque in your arteries and lower blood pressure. They can even help slash your risk of heart attack by as much as 33%.
They also help boost brain signaling. This means they can keep your brain younger and smarter as you age. In fact, people who eat the most blueberries are able to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.
But, once again, when you add milk or cream, it has a negative effect on the antioxidant activity. It decreases the availability of all the healthy anthocyanins, phenols and flavonoids responsible for these great health benefits.
Dairy also slashes the chlorogenic acid content of coffee, the anthocyanin content of pomegranate, the catechin activity of strawberries and polyphenols in chocolate and cocoa.
There’s a Better Kind of Milk for Your Coffee and Tea
If your taste buds demand milk in your coffee, cocoa or tea… if your favorite fruit just doesn’t taste right without a little cream or yogurt… there are other options.
My favorite dairy replacement is almond milk. You might think it would taste nutty, but it doesn’t. Additionally, it’s surprisingly rich and creamy. But it’s not your only alternative.
A lot of my patients prefer coconut milk. I think it’s because the texture is more similar to dairy milk than other dairy replacements. It’s also very versatile, since you can use it to make whipped cream. (Just put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. When you open it, drain the water off the top and whip up the solid coconut cream with your beaters.)
Unfortunately you won’t be able to use either almond or coconut milk if you’re allergic to nuts.
If that’s the case, I suggest trying hemp milk. I have tried this type of milk, and its consistency and creaminess is similar to regular dairy milk. So it’s certainly worth a try.
I hesitate to recommend flax or soy milk, as they both contain phytoestrogens that may have a negative effect on your hormones. If you choose either of these as a replacement for dairy milk, make sure to buy organic and use in small amounts.
As far as rice milk is concerned, I’d pass it up altogether. It’s thin, lacks protein and may be loaded with arsenic.
Also, when choosing a milk alternative stay away from the flavored and sweetened versions of them. For the biggest health benefit select the original, unsweetened form.
Velayutham P, et al. Green Tea Catechins and Cardiovascular Health: An Update. Curr Med Chem. 2008; 15(18): 1840–1850.
Nagao T, et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):122-9.
Lorenz M, et al. Addition of milk prevents vascular protective effects of tea. Eur Heart J. 2007 Jan;28(2):219-23.
Hursel R, et al. Consumption of milk-protein combined with green tea modulates diet-induced thermogenesis. Nutrients. 2011 Aug;3(8):725-33.
Cassidy A, et al. High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women. Circulation. 2013; 127: 188-196.
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