It may be a few years since the National Dairy Council spent money promoting the health benefits of milk or more than 40 years since Margaret Thatcher ‘Milk Snatcher’ decided to cut a free bottle of milk from the daily diets of primary school children, but milk remains a critical part of the Western diet either as a food ingredient or as a nutritious drink.
Often cited as bringing benefits to bone and teeth health, the leading dairy product also contains a range of nutrients from calcium and phosphorous to protein and magnesium, all of which are essential for healthy bone growth and development.
The consumption of milk and dairy products from early childhood and throughout life can help make bones strong and protect them against diseases like osteoporosis in later life. The amounts of calcium and phosphorous in dairy products are also beneficial for the development and maintenance of healthy teeth. In fact, milk is regarded by dentists as the only safe drink to have between meals (except for water) as it has been shown not to cause tooth decay even in conditions perfect for damaging teeth.
The latest reports now show how consuming 3 portions of dairy each day, along with 5 portions of fruit and vegetables as part of a low salt diet, can reduce high blood pressure in both adults and children.
A recent study of Welsh men also found that those who drank milk had fewer heart attacks than those who had little or no milk in their diets. There could a number of reasons for this, yet studies have shown that higher intakes of calcium are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol in the blood.
The most strikingly, and contrary to popular belief, is research that shows that people who consume milk and dairy foods are likely to be slimmer than those who do not. Studies have also gone on to suggest that regular consumption of low fat dairy products can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which has been cited as a growing issue amongst adults.
The good news does not stop there. A recent study of 45,000 Swedish men reported that men who drank 1.5 glasses of milk per day or more had a 35% lower risk of diabetes than those who had a low milk intake of less than 2 glasses per week. Additionally a study of over 40,000 Norwegian women found that those who drank milk as children, and continued to do so as adults, had a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
It’s clear that milk ‘Does a body good’ as the National Dairy Board of America claimed in a series of adverts back in the 1980’s but it seems that the amount of milk the average UK consumer drinks has declined by more than 8% in the last ten years, with an average person consuming just over a litre and a half a week.
It’s not all bad news as there is a steady increase in other dairy products, such as yoghurt and cream, both of which are on the rise and both of which contain many of milk’s essential nutrients.
At Meadow Foods we remain dedicated to dairy and work closely with more than 600 farmers to provide the food manufacturing industry with a secure supply of quality bulk dairy products including a range of packed milks from Skimmed and Semi-Skimmed to Whole, Homogenised and Channel Island milks.
Let’s hope that the marketing of milk as a nutritious drink or food ingredient is not forgotten and even get as much airtime as the Government’s successful ‘Five a day’ campaign. After all, it’s natural, nutritious and necessary for the development of a healthy body.