This week Slimming World announced that it was going to be increasing its Healthy Extra A (HEA) portions.
For those not on Slimming World, HEA is a diary product, such as milk or cheese. Currently, you can only have 1 portion a day. This will also depend on what you are having, as to how much of it you can have. For example, you could have 30 g of full fat cheese, or 175 ml of full fat milk each day, but not both.
Under the new changes, we will be able to have 2 portions of HEA per day.
We all know that dairy products are a good source of calcium. This is particularly important for women and children.
A single glass of milk can contain a third of your recommended intake of calcium each day.
Calcium is needed in young children to help their bones grow strong. In adults, there are conflicting reports on the benefits. Human’s are the only adults that drink milk in adulthood.
Dairy products are supposed to help increase your metabolism due to them containing calcium and protein, however there is a warning here! Most dairy products contain high levels of fat, so if you eat too many full fat dairy products, you could increase your weight. Aim for fat free or low fat alternatives.
Calcium is needed to build strong bones in childhood and adolescence and helps maintain bone strength in adults, to prevent osteoporosis. Although 50 per cent of the adult skeleton is formed during the teenage years, but its not only children and teenagers who need calcium. We lose it from our bodies every day, so it needs to be replaced on a daily basis. Milk and dairy products are the main sources of calcium in the British diet although later on, I will explain that it isn’t the only way of getting it.
Teeth need calcium too. Did you know, cheese can be particularly good for teeth when eaten after a meal, as the calcium and protein it contains helps to neutralise acids in the mouth. My dentist told me to eat it after things like grapes, tomatoes, fizzy drinks etc. Again, you need to be careful how much you eat as you could add the calories up very quickly!
Dairy products are also said to reduce blood pressure, risk of colon cancer, heart disease and strokes.
I have to admit, I am absolutely rubbish at making sure I eat food rich in calcium. I had a dairy intolerance many years ago. It developed after a failed pregnancy. For 10 years, I suffered terribly if I ate anything with dairy in it! Thankfully its reversed itself, however it will flare up if I eat it in any volumes.
I no longer can eat things like butter or cream, and struggle with milk. Cheese and yoghurts are really the only things dairy I now have, and in moderation.
Some people become Lactose intolerant. This is completely different from dairy free!
The main carbohydrate in dairy is lactose, a milk sugar composed of the two simple sugars, glucose and galactose.
As an infant, your body produced a digestive enzyme called lactase, which broke down lactose from your mother’s milk. However, many people lose the ability to break down lactose in adulthood. This is known as lactose intolerance. About 75% of the worlds population is reported to suffer from it. Although that said, it is rare in North America, Europe and Australia, but very common in Africa, Asia and South America.
People who are lactose intolerant have digestive symptoms when they consume dairy products. This includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and related symptoms.
Good Sources of Calcium
You don’t have to drink a pint of milk a day to get your allowance of calcium. There are so many other food items that will do the job as well. So how can you get your recommended daily allowance?
- Milk and milk productsMilk, yoghurt, cheese and buttermilk. One cup of milk, a 200 g tub of yoghurt or 200 ml of calcium-fortified soy milk provides around 300 mg calcium. Calcium-fortified milks can provide larger amounts of calcium in a smaller volume of milk – ranging from 280 mg to 400 mg per 200 ml milk.
- Leafy green vegetablesBroccoli, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and spinach. One cup of cooked spinach contains 100 mg, although only five per cent of this may be absorbed. This is due to the high concentration of oxalate, a compound in spinach that reduces calcium absorption. By contrast, one cup of cooked broccoli contains about 45 mg of calcium, but the absorption from broccoli is much higher at around 50–60 per cent.
- Soy and tofuTofu (depending on type) or tempeh and calcium fortified soy drinks
- FishSardines and salmon (with bones). Even canned salmon! Half a cup of contains 402 mg of calcium
- Nuts and seedsBrazil nuts (milk chocolate coated ones don’t add to it!), almonds and sesame seed paste (tahini). Fifteen almonds contain about 40 mg of calcium.
- Calcium-fortified foods
This include breakfast cereals (watch out for sugar content though), fruit juices and bread. One cup of calcium-fortified breakfast cereal (40 g) contains up to 200 mg of calcium. ½ cup of calcium-fortified orange juice (100 ml) contains up to 80 mg of calcium, and two slices of bread (30 g) provides 200 mg of calcium.
How much calcium you need varies too. According to the Better Health Channel the following is the RDI:-
|Babies 0–6 months||approx. 210 mg (if breastfed)||approx. 350 mg (if formula fed)|
|Babies 7–12 months||270 mg|
|Children 1–3 years||500 mg|
|Children 4–8 years||700 mg|
|Children 9–11 years||1,000 mg|
|Adolescents 12–18 years (including pregnant and breastfeeding young women)||1,300 mg|
|Women 19–50 (including pregnant and breastfeeding women)||1,000 mg|
|Women 51–70||1,300 mg|
|Men 19–70||1,000 mg|
|Adults over 70||1,300 mg|
As with everything, its all about variety and moderation.