Not even cow’s milk is as ‘dodgy’ as it is made out to be, unless there is lactose intolerance or a cholesterol problem, nor is its consumption key to enjoying good health. These are, according to nutrition specialists, the most interesting options if we choose to eliminate it from our diet.

The pasteurized cow’s milk is part of that terrifying quintet of ‘white poisons’ which also includes sugar, refined flour, salt and white rice which, beyond the peculiarities that each one may have separately, is accused of being the origin of many of the diseases that undermine our health.

A theory that, once again, everything we had heard from our parents and grandparents. What do we do, then, do we drink or not drink cow’s milk? Is it essential to have a healthy diet? Is it good or is it bad? “Those who are against its consumption usually argue that The human being is the only mammal that drinks milk after weaning. This is a very repeated argument on the internet and, although it is still true, I would refute it by asking obvious questions such as whether there is another mammal that cooks food, keeps it in the refrigerator or heats it in the microwave. Because, for me, the fact that we are the only living being that continues to drink milk after being breastfed is not a differential fact that corroborates that drinking cow’s milk is bad or good in terms of health,” says María Amaro, nutrition specialist.

Dietitian-nutritionist, doctor in Food Sciences (CIAL) and professor at the Francisco de Vitoria University (UFV) in Madrid, Miguel López Moreno maintains that the goodness or harm of drinking cow’s milk “is a relative question, since, in the field of nutrition, the suitability or not of a certain food is subject to what we are comparing it with. And, in this sense, there are more suitable alternatives in terms of health, such as legumes and derivatives, especially if we talk at a cardiovascular level.”

Because? “Well, because milk, especially if it is in its whole version, contains significant amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are causal factors of cardiovascular disease. In the case of cholesterol, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) establishes that any increase in dietary cholesterol intake represents an increase in cardiovascular risk.”

But, before delving into its cons, let’s analyze those pros that, until recently, recommended taking it. “Cow’s milk, both whole and semi-skimmed and skimmed, are characterized by containing a high content of proteinsas well as calcium and vitamin D“says Javier Fernández Ligero, pharmacist and nutritionist.

We already had it in mind that cow’s milk is a very good source of calcium, but María Amaro gives us more details on the matter. “A glass of cow’s milk provides 25% of the daily requirements of this mineral that a healthy adult needs (needs that vary depending on the sex, age and physiological state of each person). But is it essential to drink cow’s milk so that we have adequate calcium levels? No, because in addition to derivatives, such as cheese or yogurt, we can obtain them through other foods such as sardines, almonds, chickpeas, spinach, chard, etc.“.

An aspect that Miguel López Moreno also affects. “The belief has been transmitted from the industry that, without consuming dairy products and dairy products, it is very difficult to meet the requirements for dietary calcium, which, therefore, would lead to a greater risk of the negative effects of its deficiency. Nothing could be further from the reality, since there are other dietary sources with which to cover these requirements such as legumes“.

In the calcium chapter, María Amaro emphasizes, “it is also important to remember that, to enhance its absorptionit is essential to maintain adequate levels of the vitamin, which we can achieve by including them in our diet. blue fish and, fundamentally, thanks to a sensible and controlled sun exposure“.

What does the OCU say about cow’s milk? “It is the most balanced in terms of lactose, but it has less protein and less calcium than goat or sheep’s milk,” reveals Amaro.

What other benefits does cow’s milk have? “Neutralizes the heartburn. Hence, when we have stomach pain, we drink a small glass of cow’s milk. In addition, by promoting the formation of new tissues, it reduces the concentration of uric acid.”

Far from pointing the finger of blame for its harmful effects, María Amaro clarifies that “the fat in cow’s milk provides us with satiety, palatability and fat-soluble vitamins, such as D.”

Of course, Miguel López Moreno warns us that, in its entire version, “it contains significant amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are causal factors of cardiovascular disease. In the case of cholesterol, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) establishes that any increase in dietary cholesterol intake represents an increase in cardiovascular risk.”

And from fat, we move on to its other great con: lactose intolerance. “Lactose is the sugar that is naturally present in milk and it should only be avoided if there is a real intolerance. What’s more, if we do not have it and stop consuming it, we can cause our body to develop it, due to a lack of lactase which is the enzyme that digests lactose. We should not drink lactose-free milk if we do not have an intolerance.. It is better that we change cow’s milk for another type of vegetable drink,” says María Amaro.


By now, it should have been clear to us that cow’s milk nor is it so perverse as some make it out to be (unless you have lactose intolerance or consume it completely wildly), nor is it vital for our survival as a species (sorry, for the exaggeration).

In other words, nothing happens because the slet’s substitute for other drinks as long as they gather some essential basic requirements common to all of them: that do not have added sugars and that they are enriched with minerals and vitamins that the cow’s milk of a lifetime (or even more) would give us.

What would be the ideal vegetable drink to replace cow’s milk? Well, according to María Amaro, “the best alternative is soy drink. Because? Because it has half the fat of whole milk, which can greatly help reduce cholesterol, and a similar amount of vitamins B2 and B3. It also provides a greater contribution of B1 and vitamin E. It is a legume that has a high content of isoflavones, a substance of plant origin with a structure very similar to estrogen, which makes it a very beneficial drink for women. “.

But there is still more. “Its protein content is slightly higher than cow’s milk: 3.2 grams per 100 grams (which provides 3).”

Of course, he highlights that “we should opt for soy drinks enriched with calcium, vitamin A and Dbecause they practically do not contain this type of vitamins (nor B12).”

Miguel López Moreno also bets on soybeans. “Of the different types of vegetable drinks, the most nutritionally similar to milk is, without a doubt, the soy drink. The contribution of proteins and fats is similar, but in this case the presence of unsaturated fats and the absence of cholesterol. The only consideration is that you have to opt for those versions. without added sugars and fortified with calcium and vitamin D“.

But, be careful, because Javier Fernández Ligero warns us that “people who have any thyroid pathology They must be especially careful with them due to the interrelationships that may exist between soy and the thyroid. Likewise, it has been found that they can raise, in some cases, the level of estrogen in the blood.”

We continue. Made from a base of oats and water, “the oat drink It is also low in fat and has a very sweet flavor, which means that it is used a lot to make fruit smoothies and to make sauces like bechamel,” says María Amaro, emphasizing that this option will only provide us with “1 .6 grams of protein per 100 grams”,

As with soy, “a good oat drink that replaces cow’s milk must be enriched with calcium, vitamin D and, of course, it must be no added sugar. If we are celiac, we must also check that it is gluten free“.

One aspect, that of gluten, to which Javier Fernández Ligero draws our attention, because “it can generate a certain inflammation.” To this we should add the fact that, coming from oats, “it is a milk that can raise our blood glucose spikes“.

This specialist assures that “the rice and coconut drink, For example, it is another alternative that I really like because it is rich in very quickly assimilated carbohydrates, that feels very good on a digestive level. Coconut, in addition, will provide us with all the essential minerals so that, in this way, we achieve a correct state of hydration while generating an increase in blood glucose that will provide us with the energy we need, for example, when it comes to exercise. train”.

Regarding the rice drink, Amaro highlights that “its calorie intake is similar to that of other vegetable drinks, it is suitable for celiacs and gluten intolerant people and highly recommended for people with difficult digestion or who have a gastritis problem.

Less known, but increasingly used, “the almond drink It is made by mixing these nuts with water and filtering. Its fat content is similar to that of cow’s milk, as well as calcium and vitamins E and B2,” says María Amaro.

In this case, in addition to the added sugars and gluten“you have to be very aware of allergies to nuts.”

A choice, that of almond or hazelnut milk, which is especially interesting “both for those who want to maintain a ketogenic diet and for those who try to control their blood glucose and insulin levels to, in this way, limit the inflammation,” concludes Javier Fernández Ligero.