Dairy products are a cornerstone food group in today’s society. We see them everywhere. Our favorite breakfast likely includes dairy. When we order pizza, it’s loaded with delicious cheese. Butter and milk are used in just about every dessert.
With dairy being such a staple part of our diet, the question of its nutritional value comes up often. So how do the most popular dairy products hold up when we weigh their nutritional value?
Milk and Cream
Milk is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about dairy products. A lot of the dairy foods we enjoy come directly from milk and make up a large portion of the modern diet. Whether you own your own cows and milking equipment, or you buy your milk at the grocery store, it is indeed a staple of most diets. Milk contains all of the nutrients needed for a calf to survive during the first several months of its life. But what about humans?
Well it also contains many of the essential nutrients and minerals needed by humans as well. That makes it highly nutritious. Here are some of the essential nutrients found in milk.
- Calcium: We all know that milk is loaded in calcium, but the way milk introduces it into the body makes it easy to be absorbed.
- Vitamin B12:One of the most important vitamins for starting your day, milk is a great source of this energy-boosting vitamin.
- Phosphorus: This mineral is vital to many of the body’s biological processes, making it yet another wonderful reason to drink milk.
Cheese is a foundational food found in the Western diet. People often look at it as an unhealthy choice but that’s only because a lot of unhealthy dishes are smothered in it. The fact is that alone, cheese is not as bad of a food choice as many tend to believe. It’s considered a whole food. Whole foods are pivotal to living a healthier lifestyle. As with all things though, moderation is key to health.
Cheese is a nutrient-dense food. It holds up quite well to foods like leafy greens and fish, as long as it’s eaten in moderation.
Here are some of the nutrients found in cheese.
- Excellent Source of Protein: Cheese is a protein-heavy food choice but what sets it apart is that the protein found in cheese is mostly casein, which digests slower.
- High in Calcium: Just like milk, cheese provides a large daily amount of calcium and is considered one of its best sources.
- Great Source of Probiotics: Cheese is an excellent source of probiotics that are shown to provide positive benefits. Probiotics are live bacteria that only grow in certain foods. As unappealing as that might sound, this form of bacteria is actually healthy.
Yogurt is another popular food around the world and has become a staple of many healthy lifestyles. It has a number of different uses. Some people eat it as a standalone snack while others use it as an ingredient in popular dessert dishes. It contains a lot of essential nutrients and is often viewed as a healthy alternative to ice cream. However, some brands include so many artificial sweeteners and flavoring that its health benefits are lost.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll be looking at the nutrients found in plain yogurt without all of those added flavorings.
- Probiotics: Much like cheese, yogurt contains powerful probiotics that support the body’s health.
- Vitamin B12:This energy boosting vitamin is founds almost exclusively in animal foods and is a great way to start off the day. This is why yogurt is a staple part of many people’s morning routine.
- Calcium: As with pretty much all dairy products, yogurt is calcium-dense and supports stronger, healthier bones.
- Phosphorus: The body’s biological processes are dependent on phosphorus, and yogurt is a great source of this essential mineral.
- Riboflavin: Also referred to as Vitamin B2, Riboflavin is found primarily in dairy products like yogurt.
Butter is the last but certainly not least of the dairy products we’ll look at. Milk is churned from cream or milk in order to separate it. Manufacturers often add salt in order to improve its bland taste. Making homemade butter is actually a pretty straight-forward process.
Butter is loaded with healthy fats and essential nutrients so when consumed in moderation, it provides a lot of health benefits. Here are some of the nutrients found in butter.
- Healthy Fat: The fat found in dairy products is classified as healthy as long as it’s consumed in moderation.
- Vitamin A:This vitamin makes up most of butter’s nutritional value as one tablespoon gives about 11% of the daily recommended amount. Vitamin A boosts the immune system.
- Vitamin E:This powerful antioxidant is found in healthy fat, including that found in butter.
There are a lot of exciting dairy products. We looked at the most popular but there are hundreds of other delicious foods that come from dairy. Many of them share the same nutritional traits as those listed above. Overall, dairy products are a healthy choice and make up a lot of our diet, just be sure to consume the high-fat versions in moderation.