Guide to milk and dairy foods

Good sources of calcium

Calcium is found within milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. Milk and its products provide calcium and phosphorus in the diet as well as protein.

Calcium is needed for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. A diet that is low in calcium during the developmental years of childhood and adolescence can make the bones weak for the rest of life.

We should aim to eat two to three portions of dairy products per day (a portion is about 190ml (1/3 pint of milk), 28g (1oz) cheese or a small pot of yogurt) to increase our calcium intake. A good way of incorporating milk into the diet is by having milk-based smoothies, in tea and coffee and on cereal or in milk puddings. It is also advisable to go for those dairy products that are lower in fat such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, have ‘diet’ yogurts and cottage cheese or Edam cheese as they are lower in fat than traditional hard cheeses such as cheddar.

Too much hard cheese can raise the cholesterol level in the blood as it contains a lot of saturated fat. A side effect of having far too much calcium in the diet is constipation.

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