The low-down on dairy
In the 1970s and 1980s, people were advised to eat less fat and more carbohydrates. It was thought that this would improve the population’s health but it didn’t. More recent research has confirmed that fat is not the culprit and that full-fat dairy products are not linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Recent scientific research has also led to fresh thinking on the role of fats. Scientists now realise that the entire low-fat belief was based in flawed studies that have since been thoroughly debunked. Studies conducted in the past few decades show that saturated fat does not cause harm in humans1-5. In fact, we now know that different types of fat from different sources have different effects on our nutrition and health 6-7.
The blunt idea that all fats, including saturated fats, are bad is no longer valid. Dairy, in moderation, can easily fit into a healthy balanced diet.
Dairy – a nutritional powerhouse
You are what you eat – and it’s no different for cows. Healthy and well-cared for cows produce high-quality milk. Thanks to New Zealand’s temperate climate, our cows can graze on grass, year round. New Zealand butter and cheese is known for its natural golden colour. This is because the milk and milk products produced from grass-fed cows have a higher concentration of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is found in pasture-rich diets, such as the grass that New Zealand cows are fed. Beta-carotene is a pre-cursor used to make vitamin A. Vitamin A is also in milk and is essential for growth, retina function and healthy skin.
Not only does dairy contain many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, it’s also a good source of calcium and protein.
- Important for healthy eyes - Vitamin A is essential for the maintenance of normal vision. Dairy made from the milk from grass-fed cows has higher levels of beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin that your body metabolises into vitamin A
- Keeps your teeth protected - Dentists and dental experts have advised that a small amount of cheese (5-10g) eaten either immediately before or after sugar consumption can help to reduce the damaging effect of sugar on teeth. (9)
- Good for bone health - 99% Milk is a good source of calcium – which is especially important for bones, as 99% of the body’s calcium resides in bones (10)
- Supports heart health - A recent authoritative review indicated that consumption of cheese is neutral to even slightly protective against coronary heart disease or stroke incident (11)
- Maintains muscles - Dairy contains high-quality protein, which is important for healthy ageing and muscle maintenance (12, 13 &14). There’s also calcium and magnesium which help support muscle function, (15) antioxidant vitamins C & E to protect tissues from damage and zinc with its beneficial anti-inflammatory properties (16)
- A true brain food - Evidence from recent scientific studies show that milk products may help enhance cognitive function – including working memory performance, thought processing and mental ability (17, 18, 19& 20)