Milk: It does a body good, right? Maybe not as much as we thought.

Despite what those milk-mustachioed celebrities in those "Got Milk?" ads have been telling us for years, humans have no nutritional requirement for milk, and it may be doing us more harm than good because of all the sugar even plain non-fat milk contains, according to a new study by a Harvard professor.

In the paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Harvard pediatrician David Ludwig notes that there's been a lot of research linking sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, but a surprising lack of data comparing the health effects of reduced-fat milk to whole milk.

Ludwig argues that we should question what we've been taught about drinking that recommended three cups a day and that lower-fat milk is really no better than full-fat milk. Low-fat milk, he argues, doesn't fill you up as much and people end gaining weight by drinking more of it or reaching for that extra chocolate-chip cookie. Though he says the worst culprits, especially for children, are the sweetened varieties like chocolate milk, which of course most kids prefer.

"The substitution of sweetened reduced-fat milk for unsweetened whole milk — which lowers saturated fat by 3 g but increases sugar by 13 g per cup — clearly undermines diet quality, especially in a population with excessive sugar consumption," says Ludwig.

Evidently, drinking milk in general is not even as good for our bones as we thought. Ludwig points out that bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk, compared with those that do — while there are many other sources of calcium.

However, people probably shouldn't be too quick to be deleting dairy from their diets just yet. The Globe and Mail presented the study to its in-house dietitian Leslie Beck, who pointed out that the sugar in plain milk — 11 grams of sugar in a tiny carton of fat-free milk — is naturally occurring lactose and should not be cause for alarm.

Besides, says Beck, it's a lot easier to get kids to drink milk for their daily calcium needs than it is for them to eat up their collard greens, and parents should be a lot more worried about the real junk food kids are eatings these days.

The Harvard study's findings also shouldn't come as too much a shocker. For ages, the anti-dairy movement, back by nutritionists, vegans and vocal Hollywood A-listers like Gywneth Paltrow alike, has been saying that sure milk is nature's perfect food...if you're a calf.

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  • Kale

    As if you needed even more healthy incentive to eat your greens, turns out a cup of raw kale is loaded with a full 90 mg of calcium. That means a 3.5-cup kale salad provides even more of the bone-builder than a one-cup glass of milk.

  • Oranges

    While this citrus fruit has a (well-deserved) reputation for being loaded with healthy Vitamin C, one navel orange also provides 60 mg of calcium.

  • Sardines

    Three ounces of sardines, canned in oil with the bones, packs an impressive <a href="" target="_hplink">325 mg per serving</a>, or 33 percent of your daily value.

  • Soy Milk

    Drink up: this dairy-free alternative has just as much (about <a href="" target="_hplink">300 mg in the plain SILK variety</a>, for instance) as its skim, 2-percent and whole milk cousins.

  • Oatmeal

    Oatmeal has already won the breakfast hero award -- the fiber-packed meal, especially the steel cut variety, is <a href="" target="_hplink">both filling and heart healthy</a>. But this power breakfast has a significant amount of calcium, as well -- one 35 g packet of Quaker instant oatmeal (the apple and cinnamon flavor), for instance, <a href="" target="_hplink">has 105 mg</a>. <em><strong>CORRECTION:</strong> This slide has been updated to reflect that one 35 g packet contains 105 mg of calcium, not a 35 mg packet, as was previously stated.</em>

  • Sesame Seeds

    An ounce of sesame seeds is loaded with <a href="" target="_hplink">280 mg of calcium</a> -- almost as much as an <em>entire</em> one-cup glass of milk.

  • Swiss Cheese

    Since cheese <em>starts</em> as milk, it follows that this dairy product would contain calcium, too. Swiss and gruyere varieties are amongst the highest -- a one-ounce serving <a href="" target="_hplink">provides 270 mg</a>. Mozzarella has <a href="" target="_hplink">200 mg</a>, as do hard cheeses like cheddar and jack. Want to sprinkle a little parmesan on your dinner? It has <a href="" target="_hplink">70 mg per tablespoon</a>. Just keep portions in control -- too much of this good thing can add up to serious calories.

  • Soybeans

    One cup of soybeans, boiled without salt, packs <a href="" target="_hplink">261 mg of calcium</a>.

  • Almonds

    A one-ounce serving of this nut provides <a href="" target="_hplink">80 mg of calcium</a> -- not to mention that it can help to <a href="" target="_hplink">tame high blood sugar</a>, promote weight loss and cut cholesterol, to name just a few other health benefits (in moderation, of course -- too many almonds can add up to serious calories and fat).

  • Salmon

    We already know salmon is a nutritious fish, loaded with <a href=",,20478372,00.html" target="_hplink">healthy fats and protein</a>. And, it turns out, three ounces of canned salmon with the bones has a whopping 181 mg of calcium, according to Smithson (you have to eat the bones). Even a regular fillet of wild salmon has <a href="" target="_hplink">24 mg</a>.

  • White Beans

    According to Smithson, just one half cup of white beans is loaded with close to 100 mg of calcium.

  • Yogurt

    An eight-ounce serving of plain, low-fat yogurt has 415 mg of <a href="" target="_hplink">calcium</a> -- besting its dairy cousin, milk and racking up 42 percent of your recommended daily intake of the nutrient. Just be sure you're sticking to plain yogurt -- flavored versions can be packed with <a href="" target="_hplink">added sugar</a>. And again, like milk, consider choosing yogurt from grass-fed, organic sources.

  • Dried Figs

    In the mood for something sweet? Reach for the figs. According to Smithson, just two dried figs offer 55 mg of calcium. (The treat is also high in <a href="" target="_hplink">fiber and iron</a>.)

  • Turnip Greens

    One cup of boiled turnip greens is loaded with close to <a href="" target="_hplink">200 mg of calcium</a> -- that means piling a little extra on the plate could make it as calcium-rich as a one-cup glass of milk.

  • Arugula

    The next time you whip up a salad, consider throwing in a few handfuls of arugula -- just one cup is loaded with <a href="" target="_hplink">125 mg of calcium</a>. At three cups, a full salad would pack close to 400 mg.

  • Broccoli

    Your mom was right -- eat your broccoli. On top of a host of other <a href="" target="_hplink">health benefits</a>, this green superhero of the vegetable world has <a href="" target="_hplink">180 mg of calcium</a> loaded into a cooked, one-cup serving.

  • Tofu

    One serving of hard tofu made with calcium sulfate (check the label) provides just over <a href="" target="_hplink">250 mg of the nutrient</a>.

  • Sunflower Seeds

    A one-ounce serving of the dried seeds has <a href="" target="_hplink">50 mg of calcium</a>. Happy snacking!

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