But now it’s being hailed as a memory aid after a study found those who regularly have milk – and other dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese and even ice cream – do better in key tests to check their brainpower.
Scientists asked 972 men and women to fill in detailed surveys on their diets, including how often they consumed dairy products, even if only having milk in their tea and coffee.
The subjects, aged 23 to 98, then completed a series of eight rigorous tests to check their concentration, memory and learning abilities.
The study, published in the International Dairy Journal, showed adults who consumed dairy products at least five or six times a week did far better in memory tests compared with those who rarely ate or drank them.
The researchers said: ‘New and emerging brain health benefits are just one more reason to start each day with low-fat or fat-free milk.’
In some of the tests, adults who rarely consumed dairy products were five times more likely to fail compared with those who had them between two and four times a week.
The researchers, from the University of Maine in the U.S., believe certain nutrients in dairy products, such as magnesium, could help to stave off memory loss.
They also suspect dairy foods may help protect against heart disease and high blood pressure, which in turn maintains the brain’s ability to properly function.
Some experts have disputed this, however, claiming dairy products increase the likelihood of heart disease and strokes as they are high in saturated fat.