If you've considered a plant-based diet but can't stand the thought of giving up cheese, you're not alone. Most people cut animal products out of their diet starting first with meat, and later with dairy. Why? Dairy is generally harder to eliminate - not only is it more likely to pop up on ingredients lists, but it has an "addictive" quality that makes you think you can't live without it.
Turns out, dairy products take quite a toll on your health. Dr. Rosane Oliveira of UC Davis Integrative Medicine argues that going dairy-free should be the first and most important step in improving your diet. Here are her top 3 reasons to kick dairy to the curb.
#1 Dairy is one of the biggest sources of saturated fats
"A typical vegetarian diet very often contains the same high level of fat, saturated fat, and animal protein found in the standard American diet," says Dr. Oliveira. A mere two-ounce serving of cheese contains a whopping 18 grams of fat (10 g of which is saturated) and 230 calories. Believe it or not, cheese contains more cholesterol per ounce than a steak. Eliminating dairy from your diet lowers cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease - plain and simple.
#2 Dairy is extremely difficult to eliminate
Why do we crave dairy so badly? Dairy products contain casein, a protein that, when digested, may act like an opiate. Studies suggest that our "addiction" actually begins in infancy, encouraging us to nurse. Cheese has more casein than any other dairy product, which, along with its high levels of fat and sodium, explains it's highly addictive quality.
#3 Dairy (and eggs) are everywhere
Dairy and eggs are "stealth" ingredients, meaning that they sneak their way into a variety of processed foods in various forms. It's important to read the ingredients list and be aware of what's going into your body.
How to Successfully Go Dairy-Free
"The elimination of dairy should be a top priority for anyone who is serious about living a healthful whole food plant-based diet," says Dr. Oliveira. She warns that continuing to eat "just a little bit" will make you crave it, and that cutting it out entirely will eliminate those cravings so you can start reaping the health benefits.
Luckily there are countless dairy alternatives on the market today, and demand is increasing so fast that even dairy farmers are making the switch. According to research, the dairy-free market has grown 20% in just the past year.
Of course, whole, plant-based foods are the cheapest and healthiest option to get all the nutrients you need in your diet. And they are 100% dairy-free!
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Source: UC Davis Integrative Medicine
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