Dairy is important for healthy bones, but most of us aren’t getting enough. HFG’s dietitian Brooke Longfield shows how to get your daily needs.
Nine out of 10 Aussies aren’t eating enough dairy, according to our latest National Health Survey. Our consumption of dairy foods ranks almost as low as vegies, which are our least-consumed food group!
Few other foods contain as much calcium as dairy, so by not having enough, we’re more likely to have weaker bones. This increases our risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures.
Getting enough calcium is easy if we eat three serves of dairy a day (women over 50 years need four serves, but are ironically consuming the least dairy of all
of us). So, what’s holding us back?
There’s been a shift away from cow’s milk towards alternatives such as almond and coconut milk, which are dairy free. One in four households now buys plant milks. Many of these milk alternatives lack calcium, so it’s important to check the nutrition information panel on the pack and choose one that is calcium-fortified.
There is also a common belief that dairy foods are fattening. However, studies show that both reduced-fat and full-fat varieties of cheese, milk and yoghurt are not linked to weight gain when eaten as part of a balanced diet (specifically, not overdoing it). Studies have even found that diets with dairy foods can assist in weight loss, compared to diets that exclude them.
Most of us need to add at least one more serve of dairy a day to meet our daily requirements, so what can you do today to improve your calcium intake?