A person would need to eat 32 brussels sprouts, five cups of cooked broccoli or three-quarters of a cup of almonds to get the same amount of calcium as one glass of milk.
Reap the extra benefits
Dairy also contains vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and protein. These are important for healthy blood, nervous and immune systems; eyesight; muscle and nerve function; healthy skin; energy levels and growth; and repair in all parts of the body.
Thompson says the benefits of milk, cheese and yoghurt lie in the interplay between vitamins and nutrients which means the whole food is more than the sum of its parts, known as the “dairy matrix”.
“In recent years, nutrition science has shifted focus from nutrients to researching the effect whole foods have on our health,” she explains.
“For many foods, the nutrient content does not necessarily predict its health properties. Scientists and nutritionists are increasingly recognising that the effects of dairy foods go beyond the benefits of the individual nutrients they contain.”
‘As a result, the consumption of dairy products which contain a range of beneficial nutrients are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and colorectal cancer – some of the main causes of death in Australia.
Dairy is beneficial across all life phases, but adolescents and the elderly require even more dairy for good health.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 3.5 serves of dairy during adolescence for optimum bone development, while women over the age of 50 and men over 70 require four serves each day for bone maintenance and preservation.
So, how can Australians boost their dairy intake? Thompson recommends enjoying a milky coffee in the morning, snacking on fruit and yoghurt, including cheese in a salad or sandwich, dolloping natural yoghurt on a jacket potato, grating or shaving parmesan or mozzarella on pasta, or blending fruit with yoghurt and milk in a smoothie.
As for the difference between expensive and more affordable brands? Adds Thompson: “If you were to preference a variety over another, we recommend supporting local farmers – look for the ‘Australian Grown’ logo on the back of the package to be sure the product is made from Australian milk.”
To find out more visit dairymatters.com.au
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