As we adapt to the cost-of-living crisis, experts say ‘affordable nutrition’ is set to be one of the biggest food trends in 2023 – and there’s no better food for matching this trend than nutrient-rich dairy. Registered dietitian Juliette Kellow reveals how the benefits of drinking milk, eating cheese and yogurt are a great choice for both our body and bank balances…
As the new year looms, market analysts are predicting the food trends we’re likely to see as we move into 2023 – and it’s no surprise that cost and value for money are at the core of many of these projections.
A recent survey revealed many of us are already finding ways to save money on food, for example, planning meals, choosing lower-price ingredients, batch cooking, switching from fresh to frozen and even choosing no-cook options to reduce energy costs. But at the same time, we also want to eat healthily. It’s this combination that’s put affordable nutrition centre stage. Put simply, many of us want a healthy, nutritious diet that doesn’t cost a fortune.
The key is to fill our kitchen with foods that provide heaps of nutrition but for a budget-friendly price. And that’s where dairy products shine!
When we look at the cost of a typical serving, it’s easy to see we get a wide range of nutrients for this, including protein, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iodine. Better still, these nutrients are in amounts that make a significant contribution to our daily needs, in turn benefitting our body in so many ways.
Dairy Nutrition Benefits
Dairy products are great choices for our muscles thanks to them being high in protein, a nutrient needed for the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. Better still, the type of protein in dairy is often described as being high quality because it contains all the amino acids (protein building blocks) we need, making dairy a particularly good option for those eating a vegetarian diet.
Milk, cheese and yogurt are bone-friendly, thanks to their unique combo of calcium, phosphorus and protein, nutrients that work together to ensure bones grow and develop normally when we’re children and stay strong throughout life. This is important because stronger bones help reduce our risk of developing osteoporosis in later life, a condition that currently affects 3.5 million people in the UK and means half of all women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone.
The combo of calcium and phosphorus is good for helping to maintain normal teeth. Plus, dairy products can offer a more budget-friendly and lower-sugar option than many other popular drinks and snacks.
Blood pressure winners
While it’s important to reduce the amount of salt in our diet to keep blood pressure under control, potassium – which is found in milk and yogurt – also helps with this. That’s great news as 28% of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
Dairy products are one of the main sources of iodine in our diet. It’s not a nutrient we hear much about, but it has many vital roles such as supporting normal growth in children, helping to produce thyroid hormones and ensuring our thyroid functions normally. But it’s also vital for cognitive function – all the mental activities that affect our attention, memory and language, as well as our ability to think, make decisions and solve problems. Worryingly, many children, teenagers and adults in the UK have very low intakes of this nutrient so are at risk of becoming deficient in iodine.
Dairy products provide several B vitamins, notably vitamin B2 and B12. Vitamin B2 is needed for our skin and eyes, while vitamin B12 supports our immune system and helps us function well psychologically. Both help ensure our nervous system works properly and reduce tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal sourced foods so dairy is a particularly useful source for those following vegetarian diets – indeed, most health experts recommend that people following a vegan diet take a supplement of vitamin B12.
Foods that work hard for your money
It’s easy to see how dairy products really do provide plenty of nutritional bang for your buck. Three servings – a 200ml glass of semi-skimmed milk, 30g chunk of Cheddar and 150g serving of natural yogurt – costs just 67p and gets us well on the way to meeting our daily needs for protein, potassium and vitamin B2, takes us close to meeting our daily need for calcium and phosphorus, and easily fulfils our daily needs for iodine and vitamin B12. That’s affordable nutrition right there!
The benefits of drinking milk every day infographic – The valuable nutrients we get from milk
*Costs are approximate and liable to change. Cost was calculated using 2.27litres semi-skimmed milk, 350-400g packs mild Cheddar cheese and 500g pots natural yogurt from a range of own-brand supermarkets. Prices correct on 17 November 2022.