Dairy is such an important food group, but lately, with extreme diets and the over-dramatization of food allergies and intolerances – dairy products seem to have, unfairly, been given a bad name.
We all need a balanced diet in order to keep our bodies healthy; no one should remove major food groups from their diet, unless of course advised to do so by a medical professional, as doing so could mean that you’re lacking in vital vitamins and minerals.
How much dairy should I eat?
As with most things in life, moderation and balance is key! Not having any dairy at all could damage your body, whereas having too much could also have the same result.
According to nutritional guidelines, we should all be aiming for approximately two to three portions of dairy every day.
So, one portion could be a small pot of yogurt, a small ‘matchbox’ piece of cheese, or a 200ml glass of milk.
Extreme low-fat diets might be the reason why some people don’t have enough dairy in their diet, as the food group is often seen as being too high in fat. However, by choosing low-fat versions you can still enjoy your favourite dairy foods without the guilt!
Fat free milk can still offer you the same amount of calcium as whole milk, plain yoghurt or low-fat frozen yoghurt and low-fat versions of cheese are all great ways of avoiding the fat while still maintaining a healthy amount of dairy.
What are the benefits of dairy?
Where do we even start? Firstly, most dairy products are very rich in calcium and protein. Calcium is of course needed by the body to build strong and healthy bones and teeth, and protein is a building block of the body, helping the body to repair and build itself.
Depending on the type of dairy consumed, other key nutrients that come form this food source includes: magnesium, folate and vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, and B12.
Other known benefits of having a diet rich in dairy, is that it helps blood to clot and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some cancers, such as colon and breast.
There are so many yummy (and healthy) ways of including dairy in any meal or snack. You could have:
- Scrambled eggs with milk
- A cheese omelette
- A smoothie made with milk and yoghurt
- Hot chocolate made with low-fat milk
- Low-fat cheese and crackers
- Cottage cheese mixed with pineapple or on a jacket potato
- Low-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with fruit
- A vegetable pasta dish with either creame fraiche or a soft cheese mixed in with a bit of milk to make a sauce.