A global study has found that eating dairy, especially milk and yoghurt, is linked to lower risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact, this research suggests that in moderation, dairy products might actually lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, published early this month in The Lancet, says that eating dairy products should not be discouraged and perhaps should even be encouraged in low-income and middle-income countries where dairy consumption is low.
WHY DAIRY PRODUCTS ARE ESSENTIAL
Dieudonne Bukaba, the nutrition programme coordinator at Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) Rwanda, says dairy products are normally from cow’s milk and they include cheese, milk and butter, among others.
He says that there are also some biscuits which are included in dairy products because they have composition of milk.
“The body needs them (dairy products) because they are the source of micronutrient, these are proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils,” he says.
He adds that micronutrients are the nutrients that the body needs in large quantity.
He says that they are good sources of fats the body needs to fuel energy, regulate temperature and assist other organs like the placenta, which the body needs to build its tissues.
Venuste Muhamyankaka, the president of Rwanda Nutritionists Society, says these products are beneficial to our health in many ways. For instance, he says, they are good sources of protein for building of the body, and, they protect the body.
WHY MODERATION IS KEY
Even if they are healthy and beneficial to our body, Muhamyankaka says when consumed, dairy products need to be regulated.
For instance, he says, when taken in excess, they can expose one to different diseases.
And, he says, most of these diseases are non-communicable diseases, like heart disease.
Bukaba explains that this is because dairy products have fats, when one develops a habit of consuming dairy products on a daily basis, those fats can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
On the other hand, Isaac Bikorimana, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says because of the presence of cholestral, when consumed in high quantity, they can as well lead to high blood pressure.
And, he adds, because dairy products are good sources of carbohydrates, if one takes them often, they risk unnecessary weight gain.
“They are good for our health, but when taken in excess, they can be harmful. In general, dairy products have different categories, for instance; cheese, the biggest composition, which is 90 per cent, is fats,” he says.
He says it’s therefore not advisable to consume cheese on a daily basis, and that once a week is ideal.
On the other hand, Bikorimana says half a litre of milk in normal circumstances per day is essential.
“When we talk of fats, because they are from dairy products, they are saturated fats which can cause heart disease, and damage the nerves among other things; therefore, consuming more than 10 grams of saturated fat is not advisable,” he says.
ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO DAIRY PRODUCTS?
In most cases, animal origin foods are the ones that cause allergic reaction, especially proteins, and not those from plant origin.
If one is allergic to dairy products, Bukaba says there is the options of plant origin fats. For instance, he says, one can opt for soya milk, which still provides the same nutrients the body needs.
The best way, however, to know if one is allergic to dairy products is by monitoring themselves, especially when they develop a reaction when they consume certain dairy foods.
He says that for babies, mothers can find out if they are allergic to certain foods when complementary feeding starts.