Food With Dairy Products is an independent website for consumers to help them make the right choices about the food they eat. I created Food With Dairy Products because I found there were a lot of websites on food without a reliable source to verify what they said was true.
Children and adolescents should be encouraged to consume milk products because this is the period of their lives in which they are building their peak bone mass and developing lifelong habits. This article highlights the benefits of milk and milk products, as well as common misconceptions.
A production plant for processing dairy products is called a dairy or a dairy factory. Dairy products are generally defined as food products that are produced from milk. They are rich sources of energy. Raw milk for processing generally comes from cows, but occasionally from other mammals such as goats, sheep, and water buffalo. Water is the main constituent of milk (about 90%).
Milk of various types (including whole milk, skim milk, buttermilk), yoghurt, cheese (e.g. Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese), and ice cream are dairy products. Of all milk products, milk, yoghurt and cheese are the best sources of calcium.
Dairy products and alternatives such as calcium-fortified soy products are nutritious foods, and provide benefit when consumed as part of a nutritionally balanced diet which includes all of the 5 food groups:
- Breads and cereals;
- Vegetables and fruits;
- Dairy products/alternatives;
- Meat/chicken/fish/alternatives; and
- A small amount of fats and oils.
The functions of a food are served specifically through its nutritionally important components, including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals, vitamins and water. Cow’s milk is the preferred choice for most people. It provides 67 kilocalories and has a protein content of 3.2 grams per 100 millilitres. Milk proteins include casein (about 80%) and whey (about 20%). Whey has a higher nutritional value than casein.
Once fat and casein have been removed from milk, it consists mainly of whey, which contains the soluble milk salts, milk sugar and the remainder of the milk proteins. Whey proteins consist of a number of specialised proteins, the most important being beta lactoglobulin (50% of whey) and lactoglobulin.
Milk proteins have a high biological value but, unlike egg proteins, they lack sulphur-containing amino acids. The proteins in cow’s milk have balanced amino acid profiles and good digestibility, making it the obvious choice when it comes to feeding the family. Casein in cow’s milk combines with calcium to form caseinogen. A higher proportion of calcium and casein in cow’s milk makes it more difficult to digest than human milk. Some people cannot drink fresh milk because they are lactose intolerant, but can consume sour milk because it contains less lactose.
The nutrient composition of milk makes it a time-tested liquid that is indispensable for the maintenance of optimal nutrition, especially for the young. The major nutrients in milk aside from protein include the following:
Milk and milk products also contain fat. Cow’s milk contains fat that is in the form of glycerides. The fat in cow’s milk is a poor source of essential fatty acids.
The fat content of milk varies:
- Whole milk contains 3.9 g fat per 100 ml,
- Semi-skimmed milk provides 1.7 g fat per 100 ml
- Skim milk provides 0.2 g fat per 100 ml
- 1% milk, a blend of skimmed and semi-skimmed milk, has recently become available. It contains 1 g fat or less per 100 ml.
The main carbohydrate in milk is a disaccharide called lactose. It is made up of two simple sugars – glucose and galactose – and is sweeter than sucrose (found in cane sugar). Lactose supports the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and the synthesis of some B complex vitamins in the small intestine. In the human body, an intestinal enzyme called lactase digests lactose. Some people are unable to produce enough lactase, inhibiting lactose digestion. This undigested lactose is then broken down in the large intestine by bacteria, causing the formation of gas, bloating, pain and diarrhoea. This condition is called lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the major sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance poses a problem for some people, but can be managed. People who have trouble digesting lactose should avoid dairy products that are not compatible with their system. Many people with this condition can enjoy milk, ice cream and other such products if they eat them in small amounts or eat other food at the same time. Additionally, lactase liquid or tablets can help digest the lactose.
Lactase deficient individuals may tolerate milk with cereals or cooked as custard more than liquid milk. Some dairy foods contain less lactose than others, and may be better for people who suffer from lactose intolerance. These include:
- Fermented milk products, including some yoghurts, mature cheeses (like cheddar cheese) and butter, generally pose no problems.
- Since heating breaks down some of the lactose, heated milk products such as evaporated milk may be preferred to unheated foods.
Milk and milk products are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium. Milk has significant amounts of vitamin A and B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid, but is a poor source of vitamin C and vitamin E. It also contains vitamin B12.
The important minerals in milk are calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. It is, however, a poor source of iron. Calcium is a mineral that the body needs for numerous functions, including building and maintaining bones and teeth, blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses, and regulation of the heart‘s rhythm.
21 Healthy Dairy Products From Around the World
Dairy products are delicious, and they are one of the main types of food in the human diet.
However, most people only stick to a few of the common dairy foods.
Some of these typical options include butter, cheese, cream, milk and yogurt.
Despite this, there are hundreds of different dairy foods, and only sticking to the popular options means we’re missing out on a lot of choices.
Let’s take a look at some interesting dairy products from around the world.
Ayran is a salty yogurt drink made with a mix of three simple ingredients; yogurt, water and salt.
A traditional dairy food from Turkey, Ayran is popular across the whole Middle East region.
Nutritionally, ayran provides all three macronutrients and a high dose of sodium from the salt content .
With a history going back over 1000 years, Ayran was first invented to dilute the taste of bitter-tasting yogurt.
The result is a drinkable yogurt with a salty taste, and alongside black tea, it is one of the two most popular drinks in Turkey .
Although it can be difficult to find, certain stores and online shops stock ayran in Western countries.
Butter is a high-fat dairy food made purely from churned milk or cream.
Although butter had some negative PR in the past due to its saturated fat content, it has become increasingly popular over recent years.
This falling fear of saturated fat comes as a result of several large-scale studies finding that saturated fat isn’t quite the demon some people proclaimed it was .
However, more is not necessarily better, and butter is best as a condiment – as it always has been.
While butter does contain some nutritional value (vitamins A and D), it is not particularly nutrient-dense, so consuming it in reasonable amounts is better than several tablespoons per day.
The best thing about butter is that it tastes delicious.
One tablespoon of butter provides the following nutrition ;
See this full guide to butter for more information.
Buttermilk is not quite as famous as its two namesakes, and butter and milk are both more prevalent.
However, it is an interesting, sour-tasting dairy product.
If you are wondering what buttermilk is, then traditionally, it is the leftover pale-yellow liquid after churning butter.
Buttermilk can be drunk by itself, and it also works well as an ingredient in a marinade for meat.
The reason for this is that buttermilk has a high proportion of lactic acid (hence the sour taste) and this works well as a tenderizer with meat.
Most modern buttermilk products have a bacterial culture (such as Lactococcus lactis) added to them, and these are known as cultured buttermilk.
However, they are often just called ‘buttermilk.’
Per 100 g, buttermilk’s nutritional profile looks like this ;
See this full guide to buttermilk for an in-depth review of its nutrition benefits.
Cheese is delicious and it is popular throughout the world.
Every country has its own particular variety, and some of the most famous include;
- Cheddar (England)
- Camembert (France)
- Feta (Greece)
- Gorgonzola (Italy)
- Gruyere (Switzerland)
- Manchego (Spain)
- Mozzarella (Italy)
- Parmesan (Italy)
- Riccotta (Greece)
Cheese is a fermented dairy product, and it comes in all different shapes and sizes; some cheese is hard and very strong, while other types of cheese can be mild and soft.
Notably, recent systematic reviews on cheese suggest that it may be beneficial against the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes .
Concerning nutrition, cheese is generally an excellent source of protein, and its fat content will vary depending on the cheese variety.
Since it is probably the most popular cheese in the world, here is the full profile of cheddar cheese per 100g ;
5. Clotted Cream
Originating in England, clotted cream is a traditional accompaniment for afternoon tea and scones.
Clotted cream is a delicious, extra-thick spreadable cream, and it is made by gently baking fresh heavy cream.
As the cream heats, it loses moisture and thickens, and because of this it also has a higher fat content than regular cream.
By weight, clotted cream is approximately 55% fat. Here is the nutritional profile per 100 grams ;
It is also possible to make clotted cream at home. However, it will require about 12 hours of baking!
There is a recipe here.
6. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a kind of high-protein, curd-based cheese.
The flavor is mild but with a slightly sour taste.
One of the best things about cottage cheese is that it is exceptionally protein-dense.
Cottage cheese is low in calories, carbohydrates and fat and provides over 12 grams of protein per 100 grams.
This protein density makes it an excellent option for anyone looking to increase their protein intake. As a result, it enjoys popularity with bodybuilders and dieters.
The full nutrition profile for 1% milkfat cottage cheese is as follows;
Cream is a high-fat dairy product, and it consists of the butterfat layer at the top of milk before the milk’s homogenization process.
There are several different varieties of cream, and the fat percentage can vary between 18% and 55%, depending on the specific type.
Similar to butter, cream provides a reasonable source of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D.
However, the biggest “positive” has to be the taste. Cream makes just about anything taste better.
On the negative side, cream does contain a significant amount of fat/calories, and it isn’t particularly nutrient-dense.
In other words; enjoy it in moderation.
Here is the full nutrition profile per 100 grams
See this in-depth guide to heavy cream for more information (and some tasty recipes).
8. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a delicious, soft and spreadable cheese made from milk and cream.
In the kitchen, it has many different uses, and cream cheese often appears in recipes for anything from cheesecakes to baked potatoes and even low-carb sushi.
However, it is worth noting that there are many different cream cheese brands and the relative health merits vary by product.
Some cream cheese is just 100% fresh cheese with a bit of salt, while others are full of additives, colors and sweeteners.
For health AND taste, go with the former.
Here is the nutrition profile of cream cheese per 100 grams ;
Ghee is a traditional Indian food that has been around for centuries.
This particular dairy product is a higher-fat and creamier version of butter, and it tastes amazing too. As a result of the high-fat content, ghee enjoys popularity with individuals following low-carb and ketogenic diets.
In fact, the preparation method of making ghee is so simple that doing it at home is fairly easy.
Firstly, it involves gently simmering button on the stove until the proteins and sugars separate as solids from the butter liquid. The liquid can then be poured into a jar through a mesh sieve and it will re-solidify as it cools.
One of the main positives about ghee is the heat-stability it has.
Compared to regular butter, it is tough to burn, and as a concentrated source of saturated fat, it doesn’t easily oxidize.
Ghee provides the following macronutrients per 100 g ;
From regular cow milk to goat milk and reduced-fat options, there are many different varities of milk.
Each of these milk options have vastly differing taste and nutritional profiles, so the best option will depend on what the individual is looking for.
See this guide to 24 different types of milk for more information.
Kefir is a healthy fermented dairy food that originated in Russia, and it provides large amounts of beneficial bacteria.
To make kefir, starter “grains” are combined with milk and left in a warm place to ferment. These “grains” are not the same type of grains as wheat, barley and oats; it is just a name given to describe the bacterial cultures.
During the fermentation process, lactic acid breaks down the lactose in milk, which means that individuals with lactose-intolerance can enjoy kefir.
After fermentation, the texture of kefir resembles sour cream; it is thick and quite sour.
Various studies show that the bacteria within kefir may provide some health benefits, particularly concerning our gut health.
For example, studies show that it can modulate the immune system and immune cells, and have anti-inflammatory properties
Although more research is necessary before we can confirm tangible benefits in humans, the studies thus far are promising.
Per 100 grams, kefir provides ;
Originating in Germany, quark is a type of soft cheese and it contains significant amounts of protein.
While popular in Northern and Central Europe, quark is not widely known outside of bodybuilding circles in the West.
It is a kind of curd cheese, and it has some nutritional similarities to cottage cheese.
Regarding taste, quark is mild and slightly creamy.
Since quark production uses skim milk and lactic acid breaks down the lactose content, quark is very low in fat and carbohydrate.
It is a protein-rich dairy food and a convenient way to get more protein into the diet.
Quark provides the following nutritional values per 100 grams ;
Skyr is a cultured dairy product from Iceland, and it provides several health benefits.
For instance, it is high in protein, and it contains a wealth of probiotic bacteria.
Although skyr meets the definition of cheese, it resembles a yogurt in appearance.
Similar to quark and cottage cheese, skyr uses low-fat milk, and this makes it a relatively protein-dense food.
Making skyr involves mixing skim milk with bacterial starters and rennet, and then allowing the milk to thicken via coagulation.
Skyr is now available throughout the world, and it provides the following nutrition per 100 grams ;
14. Sour Cream
Sour cream is a delicious dairy product made by fermenting cream with a lactic acid bacterial culture.
The resulting sour cream from the fermentation is creamy, high in fat and sour.
Sour cream is delicious and works well in a range of recipes, and it plays a big role in Mexican cuisine alongside other condiments like guacamole and salsa.
Nutritionally, it provides a source of vitamin A, D and calcium, and per 100 grams, the macronutrient profile looks like this ;
For more details, see here: the health benefits of sour cream.
This one probably wins the award for ‘most difficult to pronounce dairy product.’
Uunijuusto is a traditional cooked dessert in Finland, made by mixing cow’s colostrum with salt and then baking it in the oven.
For those who are unaware, colostrum refers to the first milk from a cow that recently gave birth.
Interestingly, and despite the fact it is purely baked milk, the name ‘uunijuusto’ translates into English as ‘oven cheese.’
Although no specific data is available, the nutritional profile should be similar to regular whole milk.
Viili is a Scandinavian fermented dairy food that enjoys popularity in Finland and Sweden.
Similar to kefir, viili is made by mixing a mesophilic culture into milk and allowing it time to ferment at room temperature.
Once ready, viili is a kind of yogurt with a thick consistency, and it offers the same probiotic benefits as other fermented dairy foods.
Viili made from whole milk provides the following nutrients per 100 ml ;
17. Whey Protein
In recent years, whey has been one of the most popular dairy products.
All in all, its main selling point is as a concentrated source of dietary protein.
Whey provides a convenient way to get protein on-the-go at the gym or following exercise.
While whole food sources of protein are ideal, pure whey protein is a relatively healthy product that provides a range of highly bio-available amino acids.
Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process, and it is made from the leftover liquid.
Significantly, whey protein has an incredibly high protein-density. The total amount of protein tends to fall between 70% and 90% depending on the product.
Here is the nutrition profile of a standard product per 100 grams ;
For a complete guide to whey protein, see this in-depth review.
18. Whipped Cream
While some store-bought whipped creams contain numerous unnecessary ingredients, it is easy enough to make whipped cream at home.
The only thing we need is some real cream and a whisk or hand blender.
For homemade whipped cream, a few minutes of vigorous whisking will thicken the cream enough to form ‘soft peaks’.
Soft peaks mean that the cream has started becoming firmer, but it is still soft and won’t retain the shape.
At this stage, a few more minutes of whisking will result in ‘firm peaks’.
Once you see firm peaks, this means that the cream has become thick enough to maintain its shape. Further whisking at this stage will be difficult due to the stiffness of the cream.
Nutritionally, there is no difference between (100%) whipped cream and the cream used to make it.
Ymer is a soured milk dairy product from Denmark.
To make ymer, producers add a lactic acid bacterial culture (Lactococcus lactis) to whole milk and leave it to ferment.
After fermentation, the whey portion of ymer is drained away which gives it a thicker texture, while also increasing the solid protein content .
Ymer has a tart flavor and a thick consistency similar to mousse.
Nutritionally, per 100 grams it provides ;
Yogurt is one of the most popular foods in the world.
To make it, milk is heated to denature the proteins.
Following this, producers add bacterial cultures known as “yogurt cultures” (Lactobacillus and Streptococcus) to milk .
The temperature is kept warm for a few hours, and then the yogurt is allowed to cool.
After this, the yogurt needs to remain in a warm place to ferment; the more extended the fermentation period, the sourer the yogurt will be.
Yogurt has been the focus of a wide variety of studies and is believed to have several positive health benefits.
For one thing, it is full of beneficial bacteria that may benefit gut health.
- A systematic review of seven controlled, clinical trials demonstrated that yogurt consumption has either neutral or favorable influence on risk markers for chronic disease .
- Concerning weight gain and metabolic syndrome, a systematic review points to yogurt having an inverse association with these conditions
Here is the nutrition profile of yogurt per 100 grams ;
Greek yogurt is a little different from regular yogurt. This dairy product has a thicker and creamier texture, and it also contains more protein and less lactose than regular yogurt.
It would be easy to call zincica the Slovakian version of kefir.
First of all, zincica does share many traits with kefir – the main difference being the type of milk.
To make zincica, sheep’s milk is fermented with a variety of lactic acid bacterial cultures.
After fermentation, people consume it as a drink.
Per 100 ml, zincica provides ;
There are many exciting dairy products available around the world. With globalization, most of them have become available outside of their home nation too.
It is also possible to make the majority of these fermented dairy products from home, and recipes are only ever an Internet search away.
Overall, dairy products provide a range of beneficial nutrients and they taste great too.
Is dairy good or bad for your health?
Although people tend to accept that fruits and vegetables are healthful options, other food groups, such as dairy, spark more discussion and seem to have conflicting recommendations.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Choose My Plate recommendations state that adults should consume 3 servings of dairy products per day. Children should consume around 2 or 2.5 servings per day, depending on their age.
Examples of typical servings of dairy include:
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of yogurt
- 1 ounce of hard cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey Jack
- half a cup of cottage cheese
For decades, the USDA have advised people to consume milk every day. However, some health advocates believe that people do not need to eat dairy to be healthy. Others believe that dairy may even be bad for health if people consume too much of it.
These mixed messages can be confusing. In this article, we break down what the evidence says.
Milk and bone health
Calcium is a necessary mineral. It helps build strong bones and is necessary for other functions, such as muscle contraction and nerve transmission.
Dairy products are a good source of calcium, and this is one of the main reasons that the USDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source recommend that people consume dairy.
Dairy also contains other important nutrients for bone health, such as phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, and protein.
Without enough calcium, a person may be at risk of osteoporosis. This condition causes bones to weaken and leaves them prone to breaking. The National Osteoporosis Foundation explain that people need adequate calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.
Although dairy products may contain more calcium than many other foods, evidence suggesting that consuming dairy can prevent bone fractures seems conflicting.
For example, one systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that as dairy intake increases, the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture decreases in some studies. However, this was not the case in all the studies included in the analysis.
It is also important to explain that many other factors can affect bone health, including exercise, smoking status, alcohol use, and changes in hormone levels during aging.
One long term Swedish studyTrusted Source that involved more than 61,000 women and 45,000 men found a potential link between higher milk intake and higher mortality and higher incidence of bone fractures.
However, this association does not indicate a “cause and effect” relationship. For example, the women who had hip fractures and higher milk intake may have been drinking more milk because they were at risk of hip fractures.
The study authors caution that the results do not take into consideration other lifestyle factors and health conditions.
Another long term studyTrusted Source of 94,980 Japanese people found the opposite association, with a lower risk of mortality tied to increased milk consumption.
Overall, the majority of research on dairy suggests that milk is beneficial for bone health and cardiovascular health.
One thing that is clear is that calcium and the other nutrients that milk provides are necessary for bone health.
Those who cannot or choose not to consume dairy should consume other calcium-rich foods or speak to a doctor about whether they need a calcium supplement.
Dairy, saturated fat, and heart health
Saturated fats are present in full fat dairy products such as whole milk, butter, and cream, and to a lesser extent, in reduced fat dairy products such as 1% milk. Saturated fats are also present in meat, some processed foods, coconut oil, and palm oil.
The American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source say that saturated fats can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. As a result, many full fat dairy products do not appear in heart-healthy diet recommendations.
The AHA advise people to choose fat free or low fat dairy products to obtain calcium without the saturated fat. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteTrusted Source also recommend that people choose low fat or fat free dairy products as part of a healthful diet.
However, recent evidence suggests that the link between saturated fat and heart disease is not as strong as people once believed. One reviewTrusted Source states that some people have exaggerated the role of saturated fat in heart disease. Again, many other lifestyle factors are important when it comes to evaluating heart disease risk.
A team of cardiologists wrote an article stating that eating foods with saturated fat does not clog the arteries, as people once believed. They contend that the “fat free” movement caused higher intakes of carbohydrate foods, including sugars. This might explain why rates of heart disease have increased.
Another articleTrusted Source states that numerous analyses and reviews do not support the belief that eating saturated fat is linked to heart disease. The article also mentions that saturated fat could lower the risk of obesity-related diabetes in some cases.
Although the links between full fat dairy and heart disease are no longer clear, there are other things a person can do to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, including:
- eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- exercising regularly
- not smoking
- limiting alcohol consumption
- getting adequate amounts of sleep
- controlling blood sugar levels, if they have diabetes
People should also speak with a health professional about how often they need blood pressure checks, cholesterol and glucose tests, and other measures that can predict heart disease risk.
Diabetes and dairy
Diabetes is a common health condition, with diabetes and prediabetes affecting more than 100 million people in the U.STrusted Source. Although many factors influence whether or not a person will develop diabetes, diet is one important aspect.
The American Diabetes Association recommend a Mediterranean diet for a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and for lowering A1C levels, which are an important indicator of blood sugar control.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of healthful fats from olive oil and fish, as well as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and moderate amounts of dairy.
A meta-analysisTrusted Source found that consuming dairy, particularly yogurt, could have a protective effect against type 2 diabetes. Another study found that the people who consumed the most high fat dairy products had a 23% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the least amount of high fat dairy.
Dairy may fit into a healthful diet for many people who have type 2 diabetes. As each person is different, it is best to speak with a doctor or nutritionist about diet recommendations for good blood glucose control and management of diabetes.
Nutrients in milk
Milk contains a number of nutrients that are beneficial to health. It contains a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids that are essential for health. It also contains other vitamins and minerals that other foods provide limited amounts of.
One cup of fortified whole milkTrusted Source contains:
- Calories: 149
- Protein: 7.69 grams (g)
- Carbohydrate: 11.7 g
- Fat: 7.93 g
- Calcium: 276 milligrams (mg)
- Vitamin D: 3.7 international units (IU)
- Vitamin B-12: 1.1 mcg
- Vitamin A: 112 IU
- Magnesium: 24.4 mg
- Potassium: 322 mg
- Folate: 12.2 IU
- Phosphorus: 205 mg
Most milk manufacturers fortify their products with vitamins A and D. A person can see whether milk is fortified by reading the ingredients label. The label will list the added vitamins, such as vitamin A palmitate and vitamin D-3, as ingredients.
Milk is a nutrient-rich drink, offering many nutrients that other beverages such as sports drinks, sodas, and other nondairy milk substitutes are lacking.
Dairy products contain a sugar called lactose. To digest lactose, a person’s small intestine must produce an enzyme called lactase.
Without enough lactase, a person will not be able to digest dairy products that contain lactose. This leads to symptoms of lactose intolerance, which may include:
- stomach pain
Lactose is also present in human breast milk. Most babies are able to digest it without issues. In fact, lactose intolerance in infancy is a rare disorder.
However, many people become lactose intolerant as their body slows down its production of lactase. About 65% of the world’s population have a “reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.”
Some dairy products that are fermented, such as yogurt and certain hard cheeses, contain lower amounts of lactose than a glass of milk. These types of fermented products may be suitable choices for some people who are sensitive to lactose.
Other people find that almost any amount of dairy causes symptoms. People who cannot digest dairy may wish to consume lactose reduced dairy milk or fortified soy milk alternatives. Other nondairy milk alternatives do not provide similar nutrition.
The majority of reliable evidence suggests that dairy can be an important nutrient-rich choice for a healthful diet. However, it is up to each individual to decide whether or not to consume it.
People who do not or cannot consume dairy should obtain calcium from other sources, such as fortified nondairy soy milk, leafy green vegetables, and other calcium-rich foods.
People may wish to speak with a health professional about their dietary needs based on their health history and lifestyle.