Well, a couple of years ago I thought that would have been a perfectly healthy start to the day too. But I was wrong.
During my days as a student, every week we would have to research something interesting about a nutrition topic and present the research to a supervisor. One day as I was sifting through a few medical journals I found an article titled ‘Antioxidant status in humans after consumption of blackberry juices with and without defatted milk.’
The study was very interesting.
How Dairy Blocks Antioxidants
The study found that ellagic acid (a phytonutrient found in berries) in blackberry juice was absorbed into the bloodstream as it normally would (between 0.5 and 4 hours after consumption) with added water. However, when the researchers added skim milk to the blackberry juice, NONE of the ellagic acid was absorbed. The milk literally blocked the body from absorbing the antioxidant. Ellagitannins found in blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are thought to play a key role in the prevention in age-related cognitive decline.
So, by adding dairy milk to your berry smoothie or serving a lovely dollop of natural yoghurt to your morning breakfast you could be negating the wonderful effects of the antioxidants in berries. Unfortunately this is true for both dairy and SOY products. This is because of their strong affinity to positively charged proteins in dairy and soy. In saying this though, you will still absorb the vitamin C from berries.
As this study used skim milk, I decided to search if antioxidants were affected by whole milk. Unfortunatley, whole milk isn’t great either – another study backed up dairy’s blocking effects by getting people to eat blueberries with 200ml of whole milk. What did the researchers find? Milk decreased the absorption of ferulic and caffeic acid.
What about adding milk to black tea? Or what about the dairy in dark chocolate?
Yes, it’s true. Other studies have shown that milk added to tea completey inhibits its vascular protective effects. Black tea has been shown to benefit artery function as the polyphenols it contains induces vasodilation and increases the activity of nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels, increasing oxygen and blood flow around the body. The casein protein in particular was attributed for milks inhibiting effects, probably due to the formation of complexes with tea catechins (antioxidants).
Is Dark Chocolate any Good?
To be honest with you, lots of people claim that the dairy in chocolate inhibits cacao’s natural antioxidant effects, but I couldn’t find the original study. However, when you compare plain old cocoa powder (Hershey’s was used in this comparison) with Lindt 70% dark chocolate, there is significantly more antioxidants in the powder than the dark chocolate; 1000mg and 146mg of flavanols per 40 gram serve, respectively. Watch the video here.
What about isolated forms of dairy? Is my Protein Powder OK?
A recent study that came out in 2013 showed that the milk fat and protein together, but not alone, in dairy inhibits some antioxidant absorption. So in an isolated form, dairy proteins and fats (like casein and whey protein powders and separated milk fat) are OK? This doesn’t make sense as the original blackberry study aforementioned used ‘defatted milk,’ so logically it would contain just the milk protein which shouldn’t affect the antioxidant absorption, right? Hmmmm. No wonder nutrition and research confuses everyone.
Who knows. But if you have to eat something in an isolated form isn’t that counter-intuitive because it’s more processed? Dairy products are already processed enough with pasteurization! I am yet to find one reputable study that boasts about the amazing health benefits of dairy. We are the only animals on the planet that drink milk in adulthood from another animal. It’s like giving dog’s milk to an adult cat!
Just let that sink in.
If you found this post interesting, please read my other post about ‘Acne & the Dairy Connection’. Any questions, feel free to ask! I always love hearing feedback so join the conversation and leave a comment below 🙂
Have a lovely week everyone!
Love Stace x
*All studies are sourced from reputable medical journal articles. I only ever use evidence based medicine as a reference for my blog posts.