In Categories, Health and Fitness

Sponsored by Dairy Australia.

For quite a few years I have to admit that dairy foods have not been top of my mind when it comes to healthy eating.

Why is this, when there is so much evidence to support the benefits of dairy foods?

Dairy Foods Legendairy

I guess it’s because there are so many fad diets around and so many celebrity endorsements of various diet foods, a lot of which has generated confusion about all the good, healthy, natural things we need on a daily basis. So for me, dairy foods and their use were becoming incidental – like a little skim milk in tea or coffee perhaps, and not much else – certainly no hard cheese.

But of course dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are a great source of calcium and from all the things I’ve been reading recently in my partnership with Dairy Australia, I’m learning there seem too few other foods in the Australian diet which contain as much of this important nutrient.

I’ve been learning too that dairy foods are also a good source of other key nutrients including protein, iodine, riboflavin and vitamin B12.

I’m not suggesting you change your diet on a whim without seeking medical advice, but I do have a deep held inkling (which research backs up) that natural is best when it comes to our diets.

Dairy foods have been known for their bone health benefits but I’ve also been interested to learn that there is research to suggest that milk, cheese and yogurt can also protect us against heart disease and stroke, reduce our risk of high blood pressure and some cancers and may reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes.

11.01.15 Milk Pail trivia


Dairy Australia is hero-ing the dairy industry, the farmers and producers who bring dairy products to our doorsteps, and debunking some of the long held myths and outdated ideas surrounding dairy in a campaign called Legendairy.

Today, I thought it would be interesting to see what Dairy Australia has to say around some of the myths surrounding dairy foods …. read on for some facts supplied by supplied by Dairy Australia that might surprise you.

Dairy as part of a balanced diet isn’t linked to weight gain.

Consumption of the recommended four daily serves of dairy foods for women over 50, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as part of a balanced diet is, according to research, not linked to weight gain.

For people looking to lose weight, including at least three serves of milk, cheese and yogurt in a reduced-kilojoule diet can actually help accelerate weight and fat loss and shrink waist lines.

Are you lactose intolerant? You don’t need to ditch dairy.

People with lactose intolerance apparently don’t need to avoid dairy foods completely because according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, up to 250ml of milk may be well tolerated if it is consumed with other foods or throughout the day.

Cheese contains little lactose and the lactose in yogurt is partially broken down, so should be well tolerated. Low-lactose and lactose-free milks and yogurts are also available.

Reduced-fat or regularfat milk? Both have the same health benefits.

All milk (regular-fat and reduced-fat) is considered to be a nutritious food. Both regular- fat and reduced-fat milks are included in the dairy food group – one of the five food groups that the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend people consume every day.

The health benefits associated with consuming dairy foods are linked to all milk types.

As reduced-fat dairy foods are lower in kilojoules than regular-fat versions, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend more than 50% of intake from dairy foods should be reduced-fat varieties.

Reduced-fat milk is not suitable as a drink for children below 2 years of age due to the lower energy content. Similarly, regular-fat milk may be more appropriate for adults over the age of 70 years, due to the slightly higher energy content.

Dairy foods

Milk trumps calcium tablets every time.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines advise that calcium from foods may be preferable to calcium from some supplements.

While milk is an excellent source of calcium, it also provides many other essential nutrients including potassium, phosphorus, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin A, riboflavin and vitamin B12.

The health benefits linked to dairy foods are thought to be due to the combination of nutrients that are present, not just the calcium.

There’s no need to fear ‘Permeate’ on milk labels.

Permeate is a technical term for the lactose, vitamin and mineral components that have been extracted from milk using a process called ultra- filtration. There is nothing in permeate that is not naturally present in milk.

The use of permeate in fresh milk varies. If it is not labelled, ask the manufacturer.

All types of milk provide the same 10 essential nutrients, regardless of permeate inclusion or exclusion.

Most of us don’t get enough dairy foods in our diet.

Most Australians don’t consume the recommended amount of dairy foods each day.

Around 9 out of 10 women and men need to increase their intake of foods from the dairy food group in order to meet Australian government dietary recommendations for health and well-being. (This number is even worse for women over 50 with less than one in 1000 meeting the 4 serves recommendation for the dairy food group)

Cheese does not raise ‘bad’ cholesterol or blood pressure

Studies show cheese consumption, in correct portion sizes as part of a balanced diet, does not raise ‘bad’ cholesterol levels – this is thought to be due to the calcium in the cheese.

Similarly, studies show that cheese consumption is not linked to raised blood pressure.

Cheese is a complex food and although it contains saturated fat and salt, it also contains lots of beneficial nutrients.


Excluding a major food group, from your diet without advice from a General Practitioner or Accredited Practising Dietitian can result in nutrient deficiencies and may put your health at risk. So it’s important to discuss any health-related issues with your medical professional.

For recipe ideas and meal planners to help you include more dairy foods in your your day visit Legendairy Recipe and Meal Planning Ideas 

Here’s where you can learn how much of the dairy food group is recommended in your diet

Tips on Serving Sizes

Don’t forget what a serve is according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines:

Milk 1 cup (250 ml)

Cheese 2 slices (40 g)

Yogurt 3⁄4 cup (200 g)

Ricotta 1/2 cup (120 g)

Disclosure: The information and guidelines provided in this post are supplied by Dairy Australia and intended to be used as a guide only. Please seek independent medical advice where appropriate, or advice from a qualified dietitian, before making changes to your dietary intake.


Do you have a favourite dairy food recipe or snack to share? Please let us know in the comments 🙂

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Showing 17 comments
  • karen

    I Haven’t drunk cow milk for 23 years. Haven’t eaten any dairy for 4 years. I Got Xrays 2 years ago and they said I had the spine of someone much younger than my 55 years. No degeneration, all disc spaces perfect. So if the research is correct I should have no spine by now or crippled with osteoarthritis. Nope, I can bend with girls half my age in a strong yoga class. Every Saturday I run 5 k’s. I don’t have any health issues at all at a time in most womens lives when things start to go a bit Awol!!! From my detailed research, It has been proven time and time again that dairy is for baby cows not humans. Check ‘The China” study by Drs Colin and Thomas Campbell online, It’s the largest nutritional study ever done in the world. I use nut milks which are fabulous. Try it sometime.

    • Johanna

      Thanks for your interesting comments Karen 🙂

  • Jane

    Interesting comments- as you mentioned some can be very opinionated – I for one is with Jade, however I do see the point others are making that for centuries cultures have used the milk from animals- I think over time yes we do evolve etc, but I believe today our foods are heavily processed- why is it that there are so many ‘gut’ conditions etc, we are seeing way too many cancers in our young children…

    It is a personal choice – we do need to keep informed and not just go with the flow, we are always learning and yesterdays knowledge will not necessarily be tomorrows wisdom….

    • Jane

      oh by the way….. I love my porridge with just water (no milk) and lots of fresh fruit and nuts….. its so creamy – must be they way I make it …

    • Johanna

      I love your quote Jane that “yesterday’s knowledge may not necessarily be tomorrow’s wisdom,” and yes we do need to keep informed.

  • Seana Smith

    Hello there, I must disagree with Jade who commented about. I come from Lowland Scotland where for thousands of years, people have bred cattle and used milk as an important part of their diet. Human being adapted to tolerate cows milk… it’s been a part of human evolution… what else would we have on our porridge??!

    Yoghurt for breakfast with toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds, a huge vat of milky coffee mid-morning…. whilst I can see issues with the way milk is produced, and I love to buy organic milk… there’s no issue with digesting it for me at all.

    • Johanna

      Indeed Seanna – I’m also from dairy country in Devon – and porridge with milk – for me, nothing else.

  • Tania

    I have a lactose intolerance but it doesn’t stop me from consuming at least 2 large servings of yoghurt every day – one as part of my breakfast and one for ‘dessert’ after dinner. I also love cheese but am mindful of the fat content – having said that – I have no hesitation in eating it whenever I feel like some. My weight is fine and I look forward to continuing to have great bone density for the rest of my life – just like my 82 year old mother – she had a bone density test a couple of years ago and they re-did it as they thought the machine was faulty – hahaha – no – not faulty – just great bones – and she is a great lover of yoghurt and cheese as well – enough proof for me.

    • Johanna

      Hi Tania, love the story about your mother!

  • Carol

    Due to tummy issues I do watch the amount of dairy I consume but I still enjoy yogurt, cheese, and butter. I admit that I have never been a milk drinker – not due to any fears or doctor orders – I just don’t like the taste of it. I do take a calcium supplement daily.

    • Johanna

      Hi Carol, it’s good to hear that you know what best agrees with you 🙂

  • Jade Summers

    It disturbs me how easily convinced people are, that we have any need for cow’s milk in our diet. Cow’s milk that is designed to grow their baby calf big and strong. A calf, which is taken away from it’s mother so it’s milk can go to humans. Surely you can see this absurdity. Don’t let your objectivity be blinded & your empathy suppressed. There are plenty of calcium rich sources of iron that aren’t from a cow. We have as much need for cow’s milk in our diet as we do gorilla’s milk or dog milk. Think about it..

  • Kathy Marris

    It’s so strange that dairy food was given a bad rap over the last ten years or so. I remember my doctor telling me not to eat cheese, butter or too much yoghurt once because of my slightly elevated cholesterol levels. Now it appears that it is ok to eat dairy again. I must admit that I do enjoy eating yoghurt, cheese, butter on my toast and the occasional dollop of cream. I would much prefer to have good bone health rather than be a bit on the pudgy side!

    • Johanna

      Me too, my doctor said the same things Kathy. I think strong bones are important too as I see so many of my Mum’s age group stooped.

  • budget jan

    I make a double batch of rice pudding using a dairy milk/coconut milk combo for my elderly parents and ourselves.

    • Johanna

      Yum, Jan! That sounds lovely. Reminds me of something my dear Gran used to make when we were little. Great way to get a dose of dairy.

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