August 22, 2010

I just want milk that tastes like real milk

One of my favourite ads is the one where the middle aged man walks into the corner store to buy a bottle of milk. The woman behind the counter lists a number of different types of milk that he could possibly choose from. "Ah, I just want milk that tastes like real milk". This ad was very successful and targeted the stereotype of men wanting to drink milk that tastes like 'real milk'. Needless to say, my Dad (who used to drink full cream milk) now drinks Pauls Smarter White.

So why drink milk?

Milk and dairy products are good for our bones. The balance of nutrients in these foods is ideal to keep our bones, teeth, hair and nails strong. Calcium is one of the key nutrients in dairy which helps to cement strong bones. Throughout childhood and adolescence, the body is excellent at storing calcium and building strong bones. At around 20 years of age we hit our peak bone mass. As we get older, this tends to decrease, especially after menopause in females. So the moral of the story is: Build up strong bones when you are young, and keep them strong for the rest of your life.

How do you do this? Like most things, it's a combination of diet and exercise. Eating foods high in calcium will help to keep your bones strong. Dietary sources of calcium include milk, yoghurt, cheese, fish with edible bones, sardines, green leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts. Regular weight bearing exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on bone health. Weight bearing exercise includes any exercise that involves being on your feet, such as walking, jogging, tennis, soccer and weights.


How much calcium is enough?

For most people, 3 serves of dairy each day is recommended. A serve of dairy is a glass of milk (250mL), a tub of yoghurt (200g) or two slices of cheese (40g). Low fat varieties are the best choices to make. When we were kids, my mother used to give my brother and I a glass of milk with our dinner every night. It became a habit, and 'the norm' for us at dinner time. My brother and I also used to love having melted cheese on toasted english muffins when we got home from school. And for breakfast it was always cereal with milk, and there's your 3 serves of dairy!

Have a think how you are getting your 3 serves every day...

Don't forget that vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, and the best way to get vitamin D is to get some sun exposure every day (about 6-8 minutes is all you need!)

You may be wondering what happens if you don't have strong bones. Osteoporosis is a condition that is often diagnosed in the elderly where bones are lacking in calcium and other minerals, becoming fragile and likely to fracture. It is estimated that 20 000 hip fractures occur annually in Australia. Half of these people will not recover fully, and up to 20% will die within a year. So although it may not seem so important when you are young, cementing strong bones will increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life.


Q. I've heard that dairy foods are bad for you as they contain saturated fats (which are bad fats).
A. Yes, the fats in dairy are mostly saturated fats. Luckily, low fat dairy products are very low in saturated fats and do not increase the risk of heart disease. Low fat dairy is recommended for all children and adults over 2 years of age.

Q. What if I am lactose intolerant? How can I still get my 3 serves a day without drinking milk?
A. Lactose intolerance does not mean you have to remove all dairy foods from your diet. Hard cheeses and yoghurt are often tolerated by people with lactose intolerence. There are many milks on the market that are made for people with lactose intolerance, such as Zymil. Plant based milks including soy, oat, rice and almond milk are all suitable alternatives. Just be sure to choose the ones that have added calcium.

Q. Is milk chocolate counted as a serve of dairy?
A. No. Although milk chocolate does contain some calcium, it is also very high in calories, fat and sugar and is not recommended to be eaten every day.

Q. I've heard that milk contains sugar. Isn't this a bad thing?
A. The 'sugar' in milk is known as lactose. It is a naturally occuring sugar in milk and is part of its natural make-up. The added sugar that you do need to look out for is in flavoured milks. Those of you that have been watching Jamie's Food Revolution would have seen how Jamie tried to remove chocolate and strawberry flavoured milks from an American elementary school. Flavoured milks (even the low fat ones) have sugar and artificial colours added to them to make them look more appealing and taste sweeter. More frightening is that flavoured milks have almost as much sugar as a soft drink.

I'm dedicating this post to my friend Louise. All the best with educating your kids on dairy!

August 1, 2010


Are eggs bad for you?

Latest research has told us what we always wanted to think, that eggs are good for us!

Yes believe it or not, you don't have to feel guilty about eating eggs anymore.

The Heart Foundation recommends we can have up to 6 eggs per week! So that's 2 eggs 2-3 times a week, or 1 egg most days of the week. Whatever takes your fancy.

Just remember, the way you cook an egg can affect how good it is for you. The best choices are boiled, poached or scrambled eggs. Choose good fats like olive oil to fry an egg in, and if you are cooking up scrambled eggs, toss the cream and use low fat milk instead.

My favourite lazy weekend breakfast is 2 poached eggs on sourdough toast spread with avocado, and a generous amount of cracked pepper. Amen to that!

Read more on eggs...