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Nutrient Blocking Effects of Dairy

Dairy appears to block the beneficial effects of tea, but what about other phytonutrients?

January 7, 2010 |
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Acknowledgements

Image thanks to justthatgoodguyjim.

Transcript

But what if we eat our strawberries with cream? In 2007 we learned that milk blocks the absorption of the phytonutrients in chocolate. In 2008 we learned that milk totally blocks the beneficial effects of the phytonutrients in tea. Might as well just be drinking water. What if you eat dairy at the same meal with berries? We didn’t know until this year. Does dairy blocks berry nutrition, or not?
Let’s find out: Ellagic acid is considered one of the key phytonutrients in berries, which, for example, may play a role in the ability of berries to prevent age-related cognitive decline. This is how much ellagic acid is absorbed into our bloodstream when we drink blackberry juice made with water, at half an hour, one hour, two hours, three hours, and four hours after consumption. Compare that to how much you absorb when you drink the same amount of berry juice with skim milk added… Zero. Nothing.
The absorption completely blocked. Fact. And similar results were found with blueberries.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/lisa21012/ Lisa21012

    Does whey protein powder have the same affect as milk on phytonutrient absorbtion?
    Do we need to add protein powder to our diet to get enough protein on a vegan diet?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Good question about the whey powder. I don’t think that’s known. We’re still not exactly sure what it is about dairy that’s the culprit. I’ll definitely try to stay on top of the topic and let you know if anything new shows up.

      And I don’t recommend protein powder supplements for anyone. We should get our protein from whole foods, and the healthiest sources are legumes–beans, peas, lentils, and soy.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/AnthonyZacchino/ Anthony Zacchino

        don’t forget dark greens! Collards have a surprisingly high amount of protein considering their low caloric weight!

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/AnthonyZacchino/ Anthony Zacchino

        don’t forget dark greens! Collards have a surprisingly high amount of protein considering their low caloric weight!

        Also, while I’m vegan and would never touch a glass of milk, my sister-in-law raised a good question: do we know if these studies are specific to pasteurized milk? Do we have any idea if raw milk suppresses antioxidants?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/vegemarian/ VegeMarian

    I’m fearful for my morning smoothies. I’ve learned from other videos that soy milk blocks the absorption of the phytonutrients from tea. Dairy milk blocks absorption of phytonutrients from tea, chocolate and berries. So, logically, might soy block absorption of phytonutrients from berries, too? Anyone done the research?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/cxfleetw/ cxfleetw

    Indeed, and how about almond milk? Is it the calcium?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/hsroex/ hsroex

    Since I see a question about whey protein under this video I put my question here although it does not exactly relate to this video. Whey protein seems to have anti cancerous properties according to this link:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2025891

    What is your idea about whey protein?

    I understand:
    - that you cannot approve of a food just because you like a specific component of it – food is a package deal
    - that casein, not so good, makes up 80% of the milk proteins
    - that whey as a supplement, may not be so good, because of the whole idea that supplements can do more harm than good (vit. A,E. beta-carotene, folic acid etc.)
    - at this stage, there is no solid scientific evidence that whey can prevent of cure cancer

    Do you agree with the above? Do I miss something?

    Thank you very much for your time and this website!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      Protein supplements such as whey will increase the insulin like growth factor hormone in your body which results in rapid aging and tumor growth promotion. IGF-1 is not something we want in high concentrations as adults

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/drdons/ DrDons

    Hi hsroex, I agree with your conclusions. There are major problems with extrapolating the findings of animal research to humans. There is no need to take supplemental protein as it can be obtained by eating whole foods. See video http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/plant-protein-preferable/ on the best way to get your protein. The two best articles I’ve seen are by Dr. John McDougall see his articles in his newsletters in 12/2003 & 4/2007(available on his website). Even in endurance training where recommendations are to consume protein & carbs within one hour for recovery purposes this can be accomplished with whole foods. Going beyond the issues with cancer there is clear data from the Nurses Study that showed that animal protein intake accelerated the loss of kidney function. As you alluded to in your comment whey supplements often come “packaged” with other ingredients. At this point I see no good evidence to suggest that whey protein is “anti-cancerous”.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/jervmonty/ jervmonty

    Not having read any of the literature, it does seem to me a bit of a stretch to say that because ellagic acid is not absorbed into the bloodstream if these berries are consumed with milk that they are not beneficial. Not absorbed is not the same as not beneficial. Of couse, if you are referring to cognitive or motor benefits, it seems that getting into the bloodstream is critical. But, if you consider the potential anti-cancer benefits, just for example, of phytonutrients WITHIN the GI tract, abosorption into the bloodstream may actually be counter productive. just something to consider.

  • Terra Preta

    I’m confused. I read the abstract of: Antioxidant status in humans after consumption of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L.) juices with and without defatted milk.   and I don’t see where it is saying that milk w/blackberry juice blocks the antioxidant. I could only get the abstract as I don’t have access to the whole article. I’ll admit, I don’t really know what the article is saying is I’m unfamiliar with some of the compounds listed. Nevertheless, I still don’t see where it states that milk blocks antioxidants in any way.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I’m sorry the publisher hasn’t made the article available open access, but the study makes clear that “For ETs [ellagitannins, the phytonutrients thought primarily responsible for the high antioxidant content of blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries], a total inhibition of absorption after
      intake of blackberry juice prepared with defatted milk was
      observed.” I’m sorry if I didn’t make the point clearer in the video.

      • Terra Preta

        Thanks Dr. Gregor; I appreciate the explanation.  I’m vegetarian and I use whey to get my protein – I have 2 protein shakes every day and I load them up with vegetables and berries. Now I’m trying to find a new protein. I wish this group would investigate the interaction further and elucidate exactly what is going on. Since soy milk blocks the phytonutrients in tea maybe I can’t get my phytonutrients from my protein shakes. I do have salads everyday but I can put in a lot of things I wouldn’t eat by themselves, in my shakes.

  • Leo3112

    I do frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and a banana or 2 in a blender with yogurt and raw milk. Are the antioxidants being absorbed or is the raw milk and/or the yogurt curtailing the absorption? Still confused about raw milk and yogurt was not mentioned prior.

  • Kate Stedman

    Dear Doctor – Can you please enlighten us on whether drinking lactose free milk is a safer healthier way to use a small amount of milk in ones diet?

    • Toxins

      Dairy is not considered a health promoting food. Here is some information on dairy. I Highly recommend looking through the links. If you are in need of a milk substitute, soy milk or almond milk would be a better, and healthier alternatives.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/

  • Anony

    They used skim milk in the tests. How about whole milk?

  • Gina Grano Moyer

    What about kefir made from milk?

  • Linda

    Dr Greger, what do you think of this study that shows Ellagic Acid & EGCG inhibit each other:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814697001003