Dairy used to be a hero food product, and certainly as children we’re encouraged to get as much calcium as we can so our little bones can grow big and strong. However as adults dairy is increasingly off the menu, with a recent study by Mintel finding that one in five Britons claim to have bought or eaten dairy-free alternatives in the past six months.
Add to that the fact Public Health England now recommends cutting the amount of dairy from 15 per cent to just 8 per cent of daily food consumption and it’s easy to see why we’re opting for an almond milk latte over our normal white coffee.
However dairy isn’t all bad and countries including France, Australia, the U.S. and Ireland are actually encouraging its residents to consume more of the food product to try and combat calcium deficiency.
We take a closer look at why dairy should be back in our diets.
Eating a hunk of cheese is obviously not great for our calorie intake, but sometimes only a humble cheese sandwich will satisfy a craving. While consuming blocks of the stuff isn’t recommended, it has been found cheese may protect against diabetes.
“People who eat a lot of dairy, show no difference in their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or mortality compared with people who eat small amounts. If anything, there is a small risk reduction - so it is actually beneficial,” Professor Arne Astrup, head of the department of nutrition, exercise and sport at the University of Copenhagen and a global leader in nutrition and obesity research, told MailOnline.
He adds that cheese has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, despite its high salt and saturated fat content.
Earlier this month (Apr16), British Medical Journal published a study that found those who ditch butter in favour of vegetable spreads saw their cholesterol levels drop, but it didn’t see a lower level of heart disease or death during the study period. Instead, it was found that those whose cholesterol dropped the most had a higher risk of death.
Dr Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, explains that because of recent papers the health body is once again reviewing the saturated fats advice it gives.
“We base our advice on the recommendations arising from the Scientific Advice Committee on Nutrition,” he added. “When they last looked at fats, they recommended that saturated fat was having this effect of causing an increase in blood cholesterol, which is linked to an increase in cardiovascular or heart disease.
“Until they conclude that piece of work we are retaining our current advice.”
Various studies have linked milk consumption with cancer, leading many people to avoid the white stuff for plant-based alternatives. However Professor Ian Givens, who studies nutrition and human health at the University of Reading, says people shouldn’t discount the drink so quickly.
“Current evidence suggests milk might increase the risk of prostate cancer somewhat, but that it is strongly protective against colorectal cancer,” he noted.