I recently (on Wednesday actually) went to a one day dairy seminar in Port Elizabeth and I know right who would think dairy can have its own seminar, let alone it be one day. But let me tell you, I always knew dairy is one of the most underrated food groups because you think dairy and you just think “oh the fluid coming from a cow”. It is so much more than that, and to top it off, marketers and food companies are milking it for whatever they can (pun is definitely intended).
With that said, I will highlight some of the things that stood out for me with regards to dairy, the trends, the perceptions and as usual giving information for you to make an informed decision.
Any and everything a consumer thinks of buying first has to be read up on, heard from a friend, seen on TV or googled before a decision can be made. People are more and more becoming aware of what they want to buy and why they want to buy it; especially in the field of dairy. And part of the driving force behind this trend is a group known as the millennials. Millennials tend to first gain more information before trying it out and good old fashioned milk has taken a back seat due a hype created based on a perception that a milk alternative is healthier and better (more on that if you read further).
Dairy and your health
We all know milk and dairy products are good for your bones and teeth. Its not just good, though it literally also helps your body absorb the calcium. Apart from the good calcium and high quality protein it contains, it also has 9 vitamins and minerals (naturally) including the 3 vitamins that is a broader public health concern in South Africa: calcium, potassium and vitamin A. As a added bonus, dairy is showing favorable results in the prevention of type 2 diabetes because of the type of sugar it contains and not having any added sugar to it. And lastly, dairy also reduces risks of strokes, circulating cholesterol and blood pressure (if it is consumed as part of a balanced diet).
Plant based milk alternatives Vs Good old fashioned cow’s milk.
The key word here is milk alternative. It means “another form of” in this case milk. It is produced to be like milk but is not exactly the authentic milk. The most common known milk alternatives is soy, almond, goat, rice and coconut milks. Plant based milk alternatives are made from nuts or seeds and needs processing to become a liquid milk form. It does not have the same nutritional value as cow’s milk, they are highly processed products with a high added water content. Unlike cow’s milk, they do not have naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and need to have theirs added; Similarly calcium is also not naturally in these products, it has to be added.
Labeling and Marketing
How a food is marketed and what its called highly influences its trendiness. But believe me, somewhere out there is someone who is fighting for the labelling of milk alternatives. Firstly, I don’t think it can even be called milk because it is not a naturally occurring milk or dairy product. Secondly, the use of words like “hormone free” is also a marketing gimmick used to label cow’s milk as one having hormones. So, food regulations with regards to marketing milk alternatives is being looked into.
What to keep in mind
Milk is undeniably good for us. Not just milk but milk and milk products; and if I can some up what you need to look for when thinking of buying milk alternatives is checking the label for content and amounts of
- Total carbohydrates
- Total Fats
- the type of calcium – whether its fortified or natural
- the ingredients – milk should be the first ingredient
My golden rule is always, if it does not bother my digestive system I shall not remove it from my food intake.
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