RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—While you may think of pudding as decadent comfort food, homemade pudding can actually be a nutritious part of your day. Master some simple pudding recipes, make them with low-fat or skim milk, and the dessert (or snack) can be an inexpensive, easy, and delicious way to get some nutrients that may help protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke, and possibly cancer.
For one, milk seems to help lower cholesterol levels. Kansas State University and Pennsylvania State University researchers had study participants consume one quart (four glasses) of skim milk daily; after a month, those with the highest cholesterol levels had a nearly 7 percent reduction in those levels, lowering their risks of heart attacks or strokes by almost 14 percent. Studies have shown that there are substances in milk that reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver. Also, the calcium in milk may help reduce blood pressure. In the study done at Penn State, milk consumption helped lower both systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure measurement) and diastolic pressure (the bottom number).
And of course, milk’s calcium is vital for strong bones. One cup of skim milk contains nearly a third of the daily value (1,000 milligrams) for this mineral. (People over 65 need 1,500 milligrams, and pregnant or breastfeeding women need 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams.) Don't think that calcium's not a concern until you're older: A University of California study of postmenopausal women found that the women who drank the most milk while in their teens and early 20s turned out to have stronger bones than the ones who consumed less during those years.
Choose organic milk when making these easy pudding recipes to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs; dairy products not produced with organic methods are among the foods with the highest risk for contamination by these harmful substances. Sex and growth hormones are given to cattle to increase the amount of milk they produce. Concerns about growth hormones include links to the early onset of puberty, tumor growth, and increased cancer risks; rBGH or rBST, growth hormones in milk, have been directly linked to cancer (especially in women). And the fear is that the heavy use of antibiotics in animal feed will render those important drugs (penicillin and tetracycline) ineffective for their proper uses. Look for USDA-certified organic milk at the supermarket, or buy from local farmers who don't use factory-farm techniques.
Read on to see recipes for creamy, tasty pudding.