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Milk and dairy foods

Milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products are good sources of the calcium adults need for healthy bones.

Usually health choice versions are available which are lower in fat, such as skimmed milk and low-fat cheese and fat-free yoghurt.

Keep an eye on the ingredients though, as sometimes a low fat choice may be higher in sugar.

Fat in milk also provides vitamins B2 and B12.

Babies and pregnancy

Babies shouldn't be given cows' milk until they are a year old. One to 2 year olds should be given full-fat milk rather than low fat versions.

Skimmed milk should be avoided until a child is at least 5 years old because it doesn't contain enough calories and vitamin A.

Dairy products are important during pregnancy to help the baby's bones grow healthily. However, unpasteurised milk and dairy products, such as some soft cheeses, should be avoided because of the risk to the baby of listeria infection.

Making milk a habit

Here are some tips for including milk in a daily diet:

  • Include skimmed or semi-skimmed milk as a drink with meals.
  • If you usually drink whole milk, switch gradually to skimmed milk, to lower saturated fat and calories.
  • If you drink coffee shop cappuccinos or lattes, ask for them 'skinny' with slimmed milk.
  • Add fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water to oatmeal and hot cereals.
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk when making condensed cream soups.
  • Have fat-free or low-fat yoghurt as a snack.
  • Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from yoghurt.
  • Make fruit-yoghurt smoothies in the blender.
  • For dessert, make chocolate or butterscotch pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Top cut-up fruit with flavoured yogurt for a quick dessert.
  • Top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables with shredded low-fat cheese.
  • Top a baked potato with fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on December 23, 2015

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