Fat content and fat composition of dairy products
Many health authorities recommend dairy to be part of a healthy and balanced diet due to its nutrient density. Each milk product has its own unique fat content. As milk is processed in a myriad of ways, the fat content of dairy products can range from virtually 0% to around 80%. Milk fat is composed of a broad range of fatty acids, which makes it one of nature’s most complex fatty acid fractions.
Amino acids and protein quality of milk
Proteins are bio-molecules that are made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids in total, nine of which are essential. Milk has a high protein quality, as it contains all nine essential amino acids in relatively high quantities.
Cheese: a good natural source of vitamin K
Cheese is a unique natural source of vitamin K. In an epidemiological study it was shown that vitamin K insufficiency is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in adults 55+.
Nutritional differences between milk and plant-based drinks
Milk has been consumed for around 10,000 years. Milk and milk products are part of the everyday diet of many. Milk naturally contains essential nutrients like protein, calcium, potassium, phosphor, iodine and vitamins B2 and B12. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in beverages based on soy, hemp, coconut, oat, rice and nuts.
Nutrients in milk
Milk naturally contains essential nutrients, such as protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine and vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B12. These nutrients support various functions in the body.
Milk has a protein content of about 3.5%. Some dairy products contain more protein. For instance, dairy cheese spread contains on average over 11 g protein per 100 g and cheddar cheese an average of 25g per 100 g. Proteins contribute to the maintenance of normal bones and the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.
Quality of milk protein
Protein quality is determined on the basis of three characteristics, being: the quantity of protein in a foodstuff, the quantity of essential amino acids in the protein and the digestibility of the amino acids in the small intestine. Milk protein scores well for these items and therefore it is often regarded as a high-quality protein.
Nutrient density of milk
Milk is considered a food with a relatively high number of nutrients for the quantity of energy it provides, known as the nutrient density. What is nutrient density and how is this calculated?
Lactose: the natural milk sugar
Lactose is naturally present in milk and the amount of lactose varies between dairy products. For example, yoghurt and buttermilk contain less lactose than milk and hard cheeses contain hardly any lactose. Lactose can also be present in small amounts in products in which milk, milk powder or certain components of milk have been processed, such as chocolate products, coffee creamers and cake.
What is the difference between full-fat and skimmed dairy?
The main difference between full-fat milk and skimmed milk is the fat content and therefore the calorie content. The level of nutrients in milk is independent of the fat content, and equal in full and skimmed milk.