Dairy products, as a food group, include milk and milk products. Cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais also come under this category. Milk itself is made available in different varieties. The commonly available one of the lot is cow’s milk.
Sheep and goat milk also are ready for purchase in supermarkets. Plant-based substitutes of cattle milk include soya, rice, oat and almond milk. Such milk alternatives are mainly taken in by those who are lactose intolerant. Semi-skimmed cow’s milk is found to contain 1.7 per cent fat whereas skimmed milk contains less than 0.3 per cent fat. Full-fat milk generally contains about 3.5 per cent fat.
However, lowering the fat content in milk through skimming does not cause any decrease in its calcium content. So, lower-fat dairy products are still high in their calcium value. Calcium is extremely essential for strong bones and teeth. It also plays a major role in regulating muscle contraction and enables the timely clotting of blood. Aging women are also advised to increase their intake of dairy products to minimize osteoporosis risk.
But, it should be kept in mind that low fat milk supplies only less energy and lower amounts of fat soluble vitamins. That is why diet experts are against the practice of providing children below the age of two with skimmed milk.
Cheese is found to contain the same amount of beneficial nutrients as milk. But it is comparatively rich in saturated fat. The amount of added salt is also high in cheese. It is therefore advisable to restrict the consumption of full-fat cheese.
Yoghurt is yet another dairy product that is rich in protein and vitamin B2. It contains the same nutrients as is present in milk. Some varieties of yoghurt contain living bacteria that ensures the healthy functioning of the digestive system. Yoghurt can be made both from whole or low fat milk. But it is advisable to avoid fruit yoghurts as they are high in added sugar.