Dairy: How Food Affects Health

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Dairy products are a great source of calcium and protein, but if you're consuming full-fat dairy you may be increasing your risk of some conditions.

Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and other calcium-rich foods boost bone health and help in the prevention and management of osteoporosis. While dairy is most well-known for its calcium content, it also contains potassium, which helps increase bone formation and density, improves calcium balance, and reduces bone resorption by neutralizing metabolic acids. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb and process calcium.

In addition to calcium and potassium, dairy contains other nutrients, such as riboflavin, a B vitamin shown to be helpful in the prevention of cataracts; zinc, a mineral involved in maintaining healthy skin and preventing and treating macular degeneration; and vitamin B12, which helps keep hair healthy and may slow memory loss and ease feelings of depression.

Dairy also provides a nice amount of protein. Protein helps to steady blood-sugar levels and is therefore an important ingredient for individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, full-fat dairy (versus low-fat dairy) contains unnecessary calories, which can contribute to weight gain when consumed in excess. Full-fat dairy is also high in saturated fat, which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cataracts and macular degeneration, and memory loss.

Swapping full-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for nonfat or low-fat versions will decrease the amount of saturated fat in your diet and dramatically reduce your total calorie intake — good news for individuals trying to lose weight or reduce their risk of heart disease.

Low-fat dairy may also be protective against gout: Studies show that people who eat two or three servings of low-fat dairy foods — especially milk and yogurt — each day may cut their risk of developing gout by about half.

Many people are sensitive to dairy products, which may be a sign of lactose intolerance, but dairy is also a common trigger for IBS. Certain dairy products — aged cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, and chocolate-flavored dairy — may also trigger migraines. And while the calcium in dairy helps to decrease blood pressure, be aware that most cheeses are high in salt: So, eat only moderate amounts, look for low-sodium brands, and factor the sodium content into your daily sodium totals, especially if you have hypertension or are salt-sensitive.


Buttermilk | Fat-Free Yogurt | Frozen Yogurt | Ice Cream | Low-Fat Ice Cream | Low-Fat Milk | Low-Fat Yogurt | Rice Milk | Skim Milk | Sour Cream | Whole Milk | Yogurt

 

Buttermilk
Buttermilk is often used in baked goods and sometimes as the base of marinades, sauces, or salad dressings. Whole-milk buttermilk is high in calories and saturated fat. Fortunately, most commercial buttermilks are produced from low-fat or nonfat milk and are therefore a smart choice for people watching their weight and overall health. Buttermilk contains tyramine, a common migraine trigger.

 

Fat-Free Yogurt
Fat-free yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium, nutrients that play an important role in weight loss and help reduce the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and PMS symptoms. It is also a good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin helpful for cataract prevention, and zinc, a mineral involved in preventing and treating macular degeneration. Yogurt is a potential trigger for migraines and some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and may experience discomfort after eating it.

 

Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt is a perfectly delicious occasional treat, but enjoy it in moderation to keep weight in check. Frozen yogurt typically has less saturated fat than regular ice cream, so it’s a more heart-healthy treat. Frozen yogurt, as well as light ice cream, provides calcium, a mineral involved in keeping bones healthy, reducing blood pressure, and preventing PMS symptoms. Frozen yogurt is a potential trigger for migraines and some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and may experience discomfort after eating it.

 

Ice Cream
Regular, full-fat ice cream is not the best choice for most people concerned with various health conditions, not to mention that it can impede weight-loss efforts due to its high calorie content. Ice cream is high in saturated fat, which, when eaten in excess, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also contribute to inflammation, which may increase the risk of arthritis, cataracts and macular degeneration, and memory loss. You can enjoy it as an occasional treat, or, if you’d like to indulge more often, substitute regular ice cream with a light or low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt. IBS sufferers take note: Some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and experience discomfort after eating it.

 

Low-Fat Ice Cream
Low-fat ice cream is a perfectly delicious occasional treat, but enjoy it in moderation to keep weight in check. Low-fat ice cream has less saturated fat than regular ice cream, so it’s a more heart-healthy treat. It also provides calcium, a mineral involved in keeping bones healthy, reducing blood pressure, and preventing PMS symptoms. On the other hand, if you get migraines avoid chocolate ice cream if chocolate is one of your personal triggers. IBS sufferers take note: Some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and experience discomfort after eating it.

 

Low-Fat Milk (1 percent fat)
Low-fat milk (as well as skim milk) is an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, nutrients that play an important role in hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and tooth decay, and PMS symptoms. It is also a good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin helpful for cataract prevention, and zinc, a mineral involved in maintaining healthy skin and preventing and treating macular degeneration. IBS sufferers take note: Some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and experience discomfort after consuming it.

 

Low-Fat Yogurt
Low-fat yogurt (and nonfat yogurt) is an excellent source of protein and calcium, nutrients that play an important role in weight loss and help reduce the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and tooth decay, and PMS symptoms. It is also a good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin helpful for cataract prevention, and zinc, a mineral involved in preventing and treating macular degeneration. Yogurt is a potential trigger for migraines, and some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and may experience discomfort after eating it.

 

Rice Milk
Rice milk is made from partially milled rice mixed with water. Rice milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk and soy milk if you are lactose intolerant, allergic to cow’s milk or soy milk, eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, or find that dairy and/or soy are a trigger for IBS. Look for a brand that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

 

Skim Milk
Skim milk (also known as nonfat or fat-free milk) is an excellent source of lean protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, nutrients that play an important role in weight loss and help reduce the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and tooth decay, and PMS symptoms. It is also a good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin helpful for cataract prevention, and zinc, a mineral involved in maintaining healthy skin and preventing and treating macular degeneration. IBS sufferers take note: Some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and experience discomfort after consuming it.

 

Sour Cream
Sour cream is traditionally used as a condiment on certain foods like baked potatoes or served with Mexican food. Whole-milk sour cream is high in calories and saturated fat, which, when eaten in excess, can increase your heart-disease risk and lead to weight gain. Choose fat-free or reduced-fat sour cream to trim calories and fat. Sour cream also contains tyramine, a common migraine trigger, and some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and may experience discomfort after eating it.

 

Whole Milk
Whole milk is not the best choice for most people concerned with various health conditions, not to mention that it can impede weight-loss efforts due to its high calorie content. Whole milk is high in saturated fat, which, when eaten in excess, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also contribute to inflammation, which may increase the risk of arthritis, cataracts and macular degeneration, and memory loss. For overall health, choose skim milk (also known as fat-free) or 1 percent low-fat milk instead of whole or 2 percent fat milk. IBSsufferers take note: Some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and experience discomfort after consuming it.

 

Yogurt
Whole-milk yogurt is not the best choice for most people concerned with various health conditions, not to mention that it can impede weight-loss efforts due to its high calorie content. Whole-milk yogurt is high in saturated fat, which, when eaten in excess, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also contribute to inflammation, which may increase the risk of arthritis, cataracts and macular degeneration, and memory loss. For overall health, choose nonfat (or low-fat) yogurt. Yogurt is a potential trigger for migraines, and some people with IBS are sensitive to dairy and may experience discomfort after eating it.