Dairy products can have both positive and negative effects on your diet. Recent studies indicate that people who drink milk will lose more weight on a diet than people who don't drink milk. Dairy products are also an excellent source of protein, calcium and B vitamins.
Milk does contain saturated fat, however, which can make some dairy products high in calories and possibly contribute to heart disease. Choosing the right dairy products can ensure that you will get the most benefits from your daily servings.
1. Semi-Skimmed Milk
Semi-skimmed milk is a good option as a drink, or for use in smoothies, because it has a lower fat content than full fat milk, without losing all its fat soluble vitamins. One cup of semi-skimmed milk can contain close to a third of your daily calcium needs, along with 8 grams of protein. Studies show drinking skimmed milk can decrease your chances of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Yogurt is well known as a healthy food. Live yogurt contains microorganisms that aid digestion, and may also remove much of the lactose in milk, making it more suitable for those with lactose intolerance. Yogurt contains all of the nutrients found in milk, with none of the problems that might be associated with lactose and milk protein allergies.
3. Cottage Cheese
Many cheeses are high in saturated fat and calories. Some cream cheeses may have a fat content of as much as 60 percent or more. However, cheese is delicious and can be difficult to give up entirely for a diet. If you enjoy it, cottage cheese is one of the best ones to use. Four ounces of cottage cheese contains 14 grams of protein and is usually made up of 4 percent or less fat. This is slightly higher than whole milk, but the increased protein will keep you feeling full for longer. Low fat cottage cheese sometimes contains added sugar, so check the ingredients before selecting it.
Kefir is a type of fermented milk, similar to yogurt, but also containing yeast. This results in a versatile fizzy milk drink with numerous benefits. Kefir is very low in lactose and is easily digested, while the microorganisms are said to increase the health of your digestive tract. Kefir also acts as an antioxidant, which means it could help to prevent heart disease and cancer. It does this, while retaining all the nutrients found in milk.
Gelato is an Italian dessert that can make a good substitute for ice cream when you're on a diet. It is made with water and low fat milk, so its saturated fat content can be 50 percent or less than that of traditional ice creams, and it usually contains less sugar. It is often richly flavored with fruit or other ingredients and, due to its unique freezing process, has a more intense flavor than ice cream.
Dairy products should not be eaten to excess, but in moderation they make for a highly nutritious addition to your diet. Eat milk products with lower saturated fat content and increased health benefits to get the most from your daily servings of dairy.