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Surprising Benefits of Dairy

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Milk is a complete food with low glycemic index. Milk, curds, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese are rich in protein, vitamin A, D, B12, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

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Past studies have linked dairy foods to good bone health. Nevertheless newer studies are being published and a plethora of other benefits are being associated with dairy food consumption. According to Robert P. Heaney, a calcium researcher and member of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Omaha, lack of this calcium means more than just weak bones. Key modules like heart health, metabolism, gut health and weight regulation need calcium to operate at their best.

Surprising Benefits of Dairy

Calcium Content of Dairy Foods

One serving of dairy is either a cup of milk (150 ml) or a bowl of curds (100 grams). An adult should aim to consume at least three servings of dairy foods a day to get the recommended amount 600 mgto 700 mg of calcium. Low fat options are most preferred.

FoodCalciumProtein
Packaged Milk ; 4.5 % fat ; 150 ml225mg4.6g
Packaged Milk ; 1.5% fat ; 150 ml225mg4.9g
Packaged Buttermilk ; 1% ; 150 ml136mg3.1g
Packaged Low fat curds ; 98 percent fat free; 200g300 – 350mg8.2g

Vitamin D content of Dairy Foods

Vitamin D is found in two forms in food and supplements. As D3 (calcitriol) and the less potent D2(calcidiol). Milk is mostly fortified with 100 IU of vitamin D3 per cup (150 ml) apart from the naturally present vitamin D. An adult should ideally aim to consume at least three servings of dairy foods a day to get the recommended amounts (400 IU) of the vitamin D. Fortification of commercially available curds varies from 20 to 100 IU.

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Curds and Probiotics

Curds are a dairy product made by bacterial fermentation of milk. It is a predigested form of food and thus light on stomach. Flavored yoghurts, probiotic curds, skim milk powder, cottage cheese are other excellent calcium, vitamin D and protein rich dairy options.

“Probiotics” is the much talked about word these days wherein people know that they can get this healthful component from curds. Probiotics (Derived from the Greek word meaning “for life”) are beneficial bacteria that help to increase absorption of nutrients, produce important vitamins, support our immune system and help keep the digestive tract healthy.

On a commercial level good bacteria are added to pasteurized milk to change some lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid, giving the product a tangy taste, different texture and health benefits. Yoghurt (containing lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophillus), acidophilus milk and cultured buttermilk belong to the family of “probiotic products”. Manufacturers often add additional good bacteria such as lactobacillus or bifidobacterium, to yoghurt. Kefir similar to yoghurt is another cultured milk product rich in probiotics.

References:

  1. Heaney, R.P., Calcium researcher and member of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha
  2. Pittas, A., Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Molecular Medicine.
  3. Zemel, M.B. Ph.D., head of the department of nutrition at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  4. Jacobs, S.T., St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York City
  5. US Department of Agriculture Dietary Reference Intakes
  6. Recommended Dietary Allowances, NIN, 2010

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