Health Tips: Alternative milks

Tom Robbins, author of “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” once said, “You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” A 1960s point of view, perhaps. The 2020s point of view is that you shouldn’t hesitate to trade cow’s milk in for a glass of soy, oat or almond milk. Is that a smart trade?

Almond milk contains no saturated fat and 2 grams mono- and polyunsaturated fats in an 8-ounce glass. Whole milk delivers 7.37 grams of fat, with 4.23 grams of saturated fat. Unsweetened almond milk also contains just 30 calories, in contrast to whole milk’s 136 calories, and serves up 1 gram of protein (whole milk has 8 grams), 1 gram carbs, 450 milligrams calcium, 160 milligrams potassium, 150 micrograms vitamin A and 200 IU of vitamin D.

Oat milk delivers 120 calories, 5 grams of fat (0.5 grams is sat fat), 3 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbs per 8-ounce serving, and 2 to 3 grams of fiber, although nutrition label info varies from brand to brand.

Soy milk’s popularity has plummeted because of news that its estrogen-like molecules can raise the risk of breast cancer. The Cleveland Clinic says there’s no evidence that’s so. A serving of soy milk contains 131 calories, 4.3 grams fat with 0.5 grams sat fat, 15 grams carbs, 8 grams protein and whatever added vitamins the manufacturer wants to put in; the USDA’s evaluation says it offers no A or D.

The bottom line: Always opt for unsweetened alternative milks, whichever you choose. And experiment with newer options, like pea, pecan, walnut and cashew milk. 

Broadband protection: Promote heart health and KO cancer

Over 30% of U.S. adults watch movies on their digital devices several times a week thanks to broadband technology and higher connection speeds. Well, it turns out that you can get broadband health results flowing your way, too -- through your cardiovascular connections! In a study published in JACC: CardioOncology, researchers found good heart health fights off cancer. 

Looking at more than 20,000 patients ages 36 to 64 with an average BMI of 26.5 (slightly overweight) for around 15 years, they found traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated lousy LDL cholesterol, smoking and sedentary behavior, were independently associated with an increased risk of cancer. Those with the worst cardiovascular health tripled their cancer risk, compared to those with the healthiest heart. But folks who were heart healthy cut their risk of developing cancer almost in half.

To reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, the researchers recommend following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 steps. You get two points for each step you stick with and that reduces your risk of cancer over the next 15 years by 10%!

-- Quit smoking or don’t start.

-- Maintain a healthy weight.

-- Get moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.

-- Eat a plant-based diet.

-- Maintain healthy blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels (with medications if necessary).

Bonus: If you keep these health biomarkers and habits going, by age 55 your RealAge will be over 14 years younger than your calendar age; by age 75, you’ll be over 18 years younger. 

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