Most people look upon dairy foods with such contradictory attitudes – and for good reasons; dairy foods are rich in calcium, but the saturated fat found in them is of an equally large amount. Fortunately, dairy foods that are low in fat have been made available which make it possible to indulge without the guilt.
Dairy foods are an essential part of the diet since they are our body’s chief source of calcium. Of course, we know that calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the body which helps build bones and teeth while keeping them strong and healthy. And because calcium plays a vital role in the normal functioning of the muscles and nerves, dairy foods are known to help in the prevention of osteoporosis. Some studies showed that calcium may also help in treating cases of high blood pressure.
What people have to watch out for in dairy foods is the large amounts of saturated fat they contain. Examples of dairy foods with high-saturated fat content are butter, some types of cheese, and whole milk. Consuming such dairy foods can elevate cholesterol levels, thus increasing the risk of heart disease. It is important, therefore, for dairy-food lovers to choose products with low-fat contents. A perfect example is opting for skim milk, which is known to contain the least amount of fat compared to the other types of milk (condensed milk, whole milk, or buttermilk).
Cheese is one dairy food you should be especially wary about. While it is nourishing, it also contains saturated fat in very large amounts. This is the reason why doctors advise people with high blood pressure or heart disease against consuming cheese, even those that are labeled “low fat” or “reduced fat.” Such cheeses are known to still contain approximately five grams of fat per ounce. Worse, they may also contain a relatively large amount of sodium.
Still, indulging in dairy foods (even low-fat ones) may not be a wise move. For one, it is believed that large amounts of calcium may impede the body’s absorption of zinc and iron. For another, the concern is centered on those who are lactose-intolerant whose symptoms include diarrhea and cramps. So, how much dairy food does one really need?
For adults, health experts recommend a daily consumption of dairy foods of no more than four servings. As a guide, one serving may either be about one-and-a-half ounces of cheese or about eight ounces of milk (remember to choose low-fat). For those who love yogurt, six ounces per day should be your limit.